Question: Before I ask you a couple of questions about the show, what's your reaction to Richard Hatch's conviction?
JP: Well, I have two reactions, one is that Richard emailed me awhile ago before the trial started because I had made a remark about Richard being delusional if he thought he could outwit the IRS. And to his credit and point, he emailed me and said, "you know, this is really serious." I kinda, I...because it's Richard Hatch and he's such a larger than life character, I think for a minute that I really lost sight of the fact that this is a real person with a real serious problem. And so, having said that, I was very sad. I was very sad to hear what happened and I was sad when I read that he was led away in handcuffs. Because, you know it's...life is hard and people make mistakes. You know, I'm not justifying what he did. It's sad to hear it. I feel badly for him. That's the truth.
Question: He said during the trial that he saw cheating on the island, that people were getting food from various places. Did you see any of that?
JP: No, you know that whole story has been around for so long and I told Richard that I would not comment on anything that he said in the trial and I'm not going to. He said what he said. I think that unfortunately the truth is that Richard just made a mistake and didn't pay his taxes.
Question: There was a time that you were considering not coming back for another round of 'Survivor'. What changed your mind?
JP: The real truth of my decision to come back or not come back hinged on that I'd had a six year contract. I don't think a lot of people understand that when you sign a contract in television, it's a one way contract. The minute I sign that, I have to come out for six years, twelve seasons. CBS can fire me anytime they want. So when I went out for this last season, 'Exile Island', which was my last under the contract, I thought to myself, "alright, this time, my destiny is back in my control." I'm just going to go out and see what it feels like and just sort of listen to my gut and make a decision based on that. I went out there without anything hanging over my head and I had such a great time and I was able to clearly see how much I enjoy the people I work with...I mean, these are some of my closest friends...and how much I enjoyed the show. There were a couple of times this season at Tribal Council where I almost had an out of body experience, where I realized, I still get to do this. I'm getting paid to do this fascinating job where I get to delve into people's lives and explore aspects of the human condition and the human psyche that always relate back to me.
Question: I've been hearing some fans say, "Panama, again?" Why are you guys going back to Panama?
JP: Here's how our decisions for the location play out. We figure out either we have a destination like Palau where the theme presents itself, it's war and it's gonna be war relics and diving and old ships and planes and all of that stuff. Or we have a theme like we came up with this season, Exile Island, where the theme has nothing to do with the location. On the rare times when that's the case, we don't want to waste a great location because they are very hard to come by. Extremely difficult to find. We also knew we were doing four tribes. So going into this season we knew we needed five beaches. We needed four for the tribes and one for Exile Island. And there aren't a lot of places where you can find that many islands. Panama was perfect. Panama had another 100 islands we hadn't explored yet and it had a great place for our base camp. And it was on the right side of the world. We have to ship a lot of stuff via big containers so we can't go from one continent to another. We really have to plan ahead. And without giving anything away, our next season, the destination is going to be the theme. We have a great destination. That's really how it works.
Question: Have you guys ever considered a cold weather Survivor: Arctic or even mountains, just to change the pace a little? Or do we need to see women in bikinis?
JP: We definitely talked about - we discussed how the show might be different if we went to a cold environment but right now when we look at the seasons and how they play out, there is an element of the exotic island and being lost on a deserted island that is, I think, part of the show. Not to say that you couldn't do it in a cold environment but it would change it. And right now I think we're still in mindset of, this is a show about people trying to live in nature. If you go into a cold environment, the logistics change so much and people's bodies shut down. They have to wear clothing and now they're just trying to stay warm. It's a different show. But if it's on long enough, I would imagine that Survivor will end up there.
Question: Do you watch 'Lost'? Do you like it?
JP: Oddly enough I don't. I've tried to watch 'Lost'. I'm not into it. My closest friends can't believe it. They're like, "Probst, this show, the writing's incredible." I tried watching it in Panama. In Exile Island I got the first season and I just didn't get into it. And that is the truth because I'll tell you, I love 'American Idol'. I can't figure out why, it's not like I'm afraid to say that I like a show on another network.
Question: The only reason I ask is because you were...'Survivor' was one of the inspirations for 'Lost'. So I was just curious what you thought of it.
JP: I probably should give it another try because it's a really compelling idea and people are wild over it and people aren't usually wrong. That many people aren't usually wrong. I'm too busy right now with 'The Sopranos' and 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' and 'Entourage'.
Question: It seems that some of the bloom has gone off the reality rose to a certain extent. Why is it, do you think, that Survivor has managed to survive as long and as successfully as it has while some other shows have kind of gone by the wayside?
JP: I'm not a television expert but I don't really see any difference between looking at a genre called reality or looking at the genre of a sit-com. It's 'how well is it executed'? 'Survivor' launched a barrage of quote/unquote "reality shows" and many of them were bad, most of them were bad. But there are some good ones that came and they stayed. 'Survivor' is one of those. We've stayed because it is a good show. It's a compelling situation taking 16 strangers and putting them in the middle of nowhere and saying, "Live together. By the way, vote somebody out. But in the end those people are going to come back and give you the money. So, play that social game and have fun." That's a compelling structure and it's really well executed. I can say without any bias, 'Survivor' is as well done a show as anything on television. That's the reason it's on, same reason 'Lost' and 'Desperate Housewives' work and many other shows like that fail.
Question: I know you can't give away too much about next season because you have to keep the suspense, but, finally do the people learn how to make fire on the first time? Because that always seems to be the thing. That they are gonna have to make fire for the first time and everybody always seems to screw it up or not be able to do it. And finally are we going to see some people who actually know how to make fire?
JP: Interesting thing about dividing them up into four tribes, by sex and age, you get to look at that question. The interesting thing about seeing them divided up into Older Men, Older Women, younger men, Younger Women is that when you look at certain tasks like making fire, or building shelter or finding food, it's fascinating to watch how the different groups work together. Who knows what and who doesn't. I think it's going to surprise people who is more on the ball and who isn't on the ball. Because this show's been on now for twelve season. If you watched the show you know that you're going to have to make fire and you probably know that you're going to get this thing called flint. You need to understand how it works. What a flint is, which side is what and what is this stuff you shave. I'm AMAZED at how many people come out and see a flint and think it's like a garage door opener. You shake it or something and it's going to ignite. So, once again, fire is an issue. Once again, it helps some people and really hurts some others.
Question: You talked a little bit about the continuing appeal of the show after so many people after predicted the demise of reality TV. And you did touch on the idea that for you personally, it's a window into human nature. If you do strip away the title to the genre, reality or drama, do you think that it really is just a compelling look at how people behave under pressure? Putting a tag on it like "reality" just doesn't get to the heart of the matter?
JP: I don't think that people who are fans of 'Survivor' even think of it as reality anymore. I think they think of it as 'Survivor'. 'Survivor' is a specific show that takes a group of people and puts them in extreme conflict and we get to watch how they deal with it. For instance, this season in particular is probably the most introspective group of people we've ever had. There are five or six people who come out there with more of a spiritual investigative bent, than ever before and it leads to some interesting situations because this game will test your ethics. It will test your morals. I only know as a person who is a part of the show but also a fan of the show, that as I enjoy watching it, I am constantly challenging myself when I look at a show, to say, "what would I do?" I think that's a question that people may not consciously consider that but I think subconsciously, that's working on a deep level. "Why did he do that?" "She shouldn't do that." See. You can't tell....and they start talking to the TV. Like you do in a horror movie when they say, "Don't go back in the house." It's that same feeling. And I have to say that I have changed so much as a person in six years of doing 'Survivor' because of 'Survivor'.
Question: Yeah, I think there's an idea in some circles that TV is a passive viewing experience. Whenever I'm watching it with more than one person or even by myself, I usually stop at some point and start lecturing them about what they should do or how they should act. It's almost like it's very interactive. You can relate to it because they're not actors. They're just people and you can kind of put yourself in their situation.
JP: I think you just hit on the key. This is real life drama. It's not a scripted drama or "wonder what it would be like." This is happening right now. I have a decision to make. You see it in the first or second episode that there's a moral dilemma already for somebody who gets offered alliances from two different groups. And they find their self sitting in the catbird seat but ethically they're already conflicted because they don't want to betray anybody. The quote that the person gives is, "It's really challenging for me ethically right now but it's the best position to be in." That's an incredible dilemma. If you really are ethically challenged right now yet you're competing for a million dollars, what's gonna win out. That question never gets old.
Question: In the first three seasons you got hurt. On day 21 of 'Survivor: Africa' you got stung by a scorpion. So are you doing anything to help prevent...ways that you don't get hurt again?
JP: I think some of the things that happened to me in the first few seasons had to with that we were living in tents. Our conditions were a little screwier. You put your shoes under your tent and then you get up in the morning and yeah there's a scorpion in it. Another reason, I'm a klutz.
Question: In the beginning 'Survivor' saw tremendous and amazing ratings. Toward 'All Stars' and 'Vanuatu' ratings started to slip. With 'Guatemala' ratings started increasing. So what do you think this next 'Exile Island' will do?
JP: I'm going to give you an honest answer to your comment about ratings slipping. I think everybody listening will know what I'm talking about. People who write...if the ratings go down 3%, the ratings are slipping. We have averaged 20 million people or thereabouts almost every season. The only exception to that was Season 2, 'Australia', when we were like 31 million. That was an anomaly, that was when it peaked. This has been one of the single most consistent shows on television for the last six years. This ebbing and flowing of ratings is, I don't know, a million here, there. I think we have a core audience. If people will stick with us through 'Thailand' and 'Guatemala' then they'll stick with us through 'Palau' which was a great season but didn't have anymore ratings than the other seasons. So I think that's a bunch of silliness that's put out there by you guys. But 'Exile Island', I'm saying right now, that I think it's going to be one of the top five seasons. We'll see if the audience agrees. I never thought 'Guatemala' was going to be a popular season. I never said I did. I said it was a feisty season. I was selling it for what it was. It was a feisty season. 'Exile Island', we had more people with more life and more vitality and a true enthusiasm like we did in 'Palau'. It was a FUN group. I had a good time doing this show and I truly think that you're going to see it. I think what's going to emerge from this is - at least two of the most popular characters we've ever had. Two of the most popular people.
Question: 'Survivor' is known for it's twists. Can you give us a number on how many we should expect?
JP: The big twist is, we've already given it to you, 'Exile Island' and the hidden immunity idol. And the big key this season to the game is, or the big change to the game is that, every episode, somebody is going to have to go to Exile Island. It starts wreaking havoc midway through. It becomes very hard on people. But the silver lining is, buried somewhere on the island is an immunity idol. In addition, this immunity idol can be played after the vote. That changed the game dramatically. Because, you can't sucker me now. If I have the idol and you try to sucker me, I'm safe and whoever has the next number of votes is going home. So you better be careful about how you vote. You better think twice. And if I'm smart, and I've been on Exile Island, I'm going to lead you to believe I've found it.
Question: Twist wise, is there anything weather-wise that would lead to some kind of twist?
JP: The weather, it's the rainy season. Panama has always been good to us in terms of delivering rain. I think some of the worst nights happen on Exile Island. Because you don't have any shelter. You know you're typically going to go out there alone where there is nothing that's been built before you or if the person did build it, they're probably going to tear it down because they don't want you to have it. So you're going onto this little island, alone, with nowhere to hide, no food. Maybe water, it depends if you can get fire going. And it's going to rain. You're going to sleep in the rain. I'm telling you, it is not fun. People come back and say, I remember a person coming back and saying, I now know I can live through anything because I lived through Exile Island. It's hard and you have to remind yourself when you're watching this show, it's real. It doesn't end and then you pull away and the rain machine stops. It rains all night. You're freezing, you're hungry. Your mind is breaking down because you've been playing this damn game for 20 days. It's tough.
Question: During 'Guatemala' we saw a lot of sickness, especially after the 11 mile hike. Did anything like that happen this time around. There is rumor of someone being very, very sick and possibly leaving the game.
JP: What...say the last part...you said...about somebody being very, very sick...it just cut out a little.
Question: There's a rumor that someone got pretty ill out there in Panama....
JP: Oh, a rumor. Well, yeah, somebody had a gall bladder...uhhh...no. It's always a possibility. I wish we had a way to meter this. To monitor this, I mean, during the show. Think about it for a minute what your body goes through out there. Friday night you have a steak and then Saturday morning you get up and have some eggs and pancakes and then Sunday you're on 'Survivor'. Suddenly, you have nothing. If you last a long time you have very little and all the foods are different and maybe you're catching some fish or you're eating some snails or whatever. The toll it takes on the body is something we've never explored that much because it's hard to show it. It's hard to show what is happening inside a person's body. But it's wreaking havoc. There are always people who are much sicker than we end up showing because we don't have time. There's always people who are vomiting the first 8,9, 10 days. I've used this reference before but in 'Palau', Ian, on the very first challenge we had this thing where they had to climb up this embankment part of the challenge and then we brought these challenges back, day 25 or something, and gave them a 2nd chance to do it. He looked at that thing and he said, "I cannot believe how much bigger and more intimidating that looks now. Because I have no energy at all. I don't even know if I can get up it." Those are the times that I remember, man, the toll it takes is really tough.
Question: At Tribal Council, last season, between Judd and Jamie, people who made your job difficult, this cast now, are they a little bit more friendly? Did you have a better time with these people?
JP: With all due respect to the 'Guatemala' crew, because they had a tough run of it, this group of people was such a breath of fresh air. I had so much fun. There was definitely times in 'Guatemala' where I was more than frustrated. I continue to learn, too, and I think I'm getting better. I think I learned a lot in 'Guatemala'. I think I've learned even more that I have to appreciate the situation the other person is in and not judge it. Just go with it and appreciate it. I did that a lot more this season. And I think the people out there also did that. I think this group of people really wanted to play 'Survivor'. That's different. They didn't come out here grunting and groaning and fighting and bitching and moaning. They came out and said, "what a great experience". And you're going to see that on the show, you're going to like a lot of people this season.
Question: So obviously this 'Exile Island' is a huge twist to throw at the competitors who I'm assuming had their own ideas about how they'd play coming in. Could you sort of see their wheels turning once they heard about this.
JP: Yeah, they get introduced to Exile Island about 30 seconds into the show. It's just what you said. Suddenly you see everybody's wheels stop and start to reconnoiter. "Uh oh, I didn't anticipate this." And the worst part about Exile Island is, you're away from everybody. You don't know what's happening back at camp and that's deadly. You see it every time somebody wins a reward and they have to leave. It's a problem. So that's the single biggest concern is, you don't know what's going on. And then also, Exile Island starts to take a toll on you physically as the show goes on. The first person who goes there...it's not so bad. You know, it's early in the show, okay, I'm a little wet and a little hungry. Wait til you get to episode 3, 4, and 5 and it's not as fun anymore. But the twist that I think really threw everybody was being able to play the immunity idol after the vote. Because everybody's figured out strategies of how to ensure that this four can go this far, as long as we don't vote for each other. But now, what if I have the idol and I don't tell you? And what if you vote for me, all of you guys vote for me and I cast my single vote for you? And I have the idol and you're the one that has to go home? That will screw your game up. And everybody knows that. They know that anytime somebody has been to Exile Island, that means the idol could have been found, it means it could have been traded with somebody. You don't know. Maybe I'm telling you I have it and I don't. Maybe I'm not telling you I have it and I do. At one point somebody said to me at Tribal, "you know, we think this has just changed the game too much." I cracked up. That's definitely a sign that it's working.
Question: I guess the four tribes doesn't last very long but did you see an immediate effect on the show in that regard as well?
JP: The whole thing with the four tribes is, we're always looking for ways to bond people. So we'd never done this. We talked about it a lot but it's expensive to have two extra beaches and all the crews to cover that. It's a big money issue so, we got the money to do it but we didn't want to go with it very long because from a logistics point of view, if one tribe goes to Tribal Council two times in a row, they're suddenly down to two people. So, we put them in four tribes to bond them then we change them in episode two to see if the bonds would stick. And I think it's pretty interesting because there is a label about being the "older women" and the "younger guys" and "younger women" and the "older guys". And that tends to stick. Suddenly it's okay that four older guys are going to stay together no matter what. And then they get split up, now what do you do?
Question: And lastly, are you glad to get back to a season where it's all people who have never played the game before?
JP: Yeah, yeah. I actually, I mean, I was one of the people who had the idea about Steph and Bobby Jon. So I can't walk away from it. But after that and the 'All Stars', you really saw how it changes people. It changed Steph the second time. I'm not, I'm just not sure about it anymore. And yet, it'll probably get revisited again. But I'm just happy...the whole thing about casting is it's kind of a crap shoot. You go through this enormous process. We have probably the best casting director, well not probably, we have the best casting director working. She always brings us great people. But it's when you put all 16 or 18 people together that you see what the dynamic is. And you don't know. We meet them individually. We don't know how they're going to get along. 'Guatemala' surprised me how ugly it was. I didn't like it. I would never want to do a season like that. I would never choose to do a season like that. But 'Exile Island', day one, I was having fun. And Tribal Councils were just as investigative and just as tough, but they were done with a smile a bit of fun.
Question: We're putting together, for the debut of the new season, our best and worst Survivors of all time. I'm going to put you on the spot here. If you had to pick who was the best player and the worst player that you've gone through so far, who would you pick?
JP: Oh, man, ummm, let me think here. The best player...okay I gotta give you a caveat, it's hard to say that anybody who won this game was not a good player. Because to win this game it takes a lot. Best player... I don't want to waste all this time but I gotta think here for one second. I would probably say at this point that Tom Westman would probably be my choice. Everyone can say Richard Hatch was a great player and he was but Richard Hatch played the first season and he had a big advantage in that he understood how to play a game like that. Tom Westman came in 10 seasons in, was one of the most likeable people ever. He's a fireman for crying out loud, a dad and an athlete. And somehow he still lasted and won. That's saying a lot. That guy had a big target. The worst player?
Question (Follow Up): We kind of discounted the people who were voted out early.
JP: So what's the criteria then?
Question (Follow Up): Who made such a crucial mistake? Who had the game won and bungled it? If somebody appears just one episode then they really didn't have a chance to play.
JP: The worst, God, this is deadly to put my name on this one. The worst player... who you got, who do you like?
Question (Follow Up): Well we put at the top of the list, Janu. And then Osten from there.
JP: She wouldn't be mine. She didn't even...to me she's somebody who got carried along and could have easily been offed. You're talking about somebody who had a chance and didn't realize it, how to play that game.
Question (Follow Up): Or somebody who just went there and didn't play at all. Or just didn't have a clue or made a crucial mistake at the very worst time.
JP: I don't know. I'm gonna have to think on that one. You guys forget, I had to live with these people. The worst mistake, I don't know, the worst player is uhhh, I think the worst move, not the worst player, was Lex in the 'All Stars'. Lex could have won that game. Lex is actually a very good player who made one of the worst moves ever in letting Amber stay in the game.
Question (Follow Up): And voting off all his friends as well.
JP: Yeah I guess but that's the gameplay, I don't think that was bad. That's how I would categorize it. The best player who made the worst move was Lex and he knows it.
Question: What would you tell us about, who are the stand out people this year...
JP: Shane, homerun. Shane's the guy that if he walked in every season and looked different, we'd put him on every season. He opens his mouth and you go, oh what's he going to say next? This is a guy that smoked for 20 years, three packs a day and I think half the reason he came out here was he wanted to quit. And he goes cold turkey on day one, day one. Shane is going, "what the hell did I get myself into?" He's also got a neat story in that he's a single dad and he really loves his kid a lot.
For me, one of my top 5 people ever on the show is Cirie. Cirie is, I think I said this somewhere, Cirie represents every person that watches Survivor and sits on their couch and says, "I could do that" but they never get up. Cirie got up and that's what makes me love Cirie. She is the least likely person you'd ever expect to see make it on the show. And our casting director fought for her. She said, "I'm telling you, trust me, Cirie will deliver. She'll be dynamite out there." Cirie on day one doesn't want to pick up leaves. She's like, "I'm going to but I tell ya, I know there's things in those leaves. I don't like to build the shelter because every time you tear down a branch whatever was living in there is looking to get even." She's just wonderful.
We've got a guy kind of like Tom Westman, Terry Deitz who's a fighter pilot and reminds of Tom a lot in that he's really athletic, he's in his forties, he's a dad. He's a hero, a guy who's flown these jets. Got a big target on his back.
We have an astronaut, did like three spacewalks. Literally went up into space. And from the beginning he kept saying that 'Survivor' to him was very similar to the kind of model that you would use to train for a spacewalk in terms of getting along with people and the strategies involved. He was looking forward to that.
We've got this guy, Bobby Mason, who, no lie, refers to himself in the third person more than anyone I've ever seen. Bob Dawg likes to do this. Bob Dawg likes to do that. Bob Dawg likes to say this. At a certain point, you're kind of like, 'you're talking about yourself.' "Yeah Bob Dawg is me. Bob Dawg is my alter ego." He's got this big deep voice and the guy is huge. Physical wise he's an imposing threat but I'm trying to imagine him around camp. "Bob Dawg's gonna go get some wood." He's a funny guy.
One of my emotional, sentimental favorites is this woman, Tina Scheer. I don't know if you guys know this story or not but she was gonna be on 'Guatemala' and about six weeks before we left for the show, her son was killed in a car wreck. It was tragic and obviously she couldn't do 'Guatemala'. But obviously we said, "if next season you think it's appropriate and it feels right, we're going to hold a spot for you and you just let us know." She thought about it and she said, "you know what, I'm packing my son up with me inside my heart and let's go do it." She's a lumberjill. She's a very likeable Sue Hawk. This woman will tell you everything she's thinking. And she's a hard worker and she's good outdoors. And it's going to be hard to get rid of her because she knows what she's doing.
Question: Her tragic background, does that come into play in the game at all?
JP: I can't tell ya. It comes into play, I can't tell you in what regard. And that was her...we didn't tell anybody, obviously...we don't say, like same with Dan. Dan didn't want anybody to know he was an astronaut unless he decided to tell them. Misty was a rocket scientist. She didn't want anybody to know that either. So, it was Tina's choice as to how to share it or if she wanted to play it as a strategy or keep it to herself.
Colleen Sullivan: Hi, Jeff, we're getting down to the wire here. You've touched on some of the folks but can we just go down the list? Starting with Aras?
JP: Yeah, next guy is Aras. He's a yoga instructor. Aras is a really well-intentioned guy. He wanted to do the right thing and that's not always easy to do on 'Survivor'. It's not easy to do in your daily life. But Aras really appealed to me because I think he comes from a good family and I really liked him. I liked what he was trying to achieve. It's a nice change of pace to see so many people try to play the game with integrity, still play and play hard. But play it with some sort of honor and decency, it was so, made me feel so good about you know, vanity.
Austin, he's a part of the young guy group. And another very likeable guy. I think women are really going to find Austin charming. You know, he's an attractive guy. He's in good shape. And he, too, has a backbone that's built on ethics. The game is gonna prove difficult for him because of that but his goal is how far can I get and play in a way that my parents will be proud of me. And it's not boring, it's fascinating.
Terry Deitz, we talked about. The Navy fighter pilot.
Danielle. Danielle is one of the young girls. She's a medical sales rep from Florida. Danielle is puzzling to me because when we met her she was the cockiest, smack-talking, I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna do that, I'm an athlete. And she got out there and on day one, I was thinking, wow where is this person. Because she was somewhat quiet. I was really curious about the real Danielle. I was also aware that maybe Danielle was playing. And maybe what she's playing is this game of hiding in the middle somewhere which I've always felt is the best strategy if you can figure out how to do it. Danielle definitely appeared to be wanting to hide in the middle.
Cirie, we've talked about. She's one of my favorite all time Survivors. And I think people are going to absolutely adore her.
Misty, a rocket scientist and engineer, also a beauty queen. Her deal was, she said about herself, she's a very bright person but she's not necessarily sure she's going to let anybody know that. And as she said, it might not even come into play in the game. She's also been in beauty pageants so she knows a little bit about that competitive angle that you have to take to win these things, to get along with people. And I have to say, Misty is a gamer. She's willing to go for it. And within the first 12 or 14 hours she is eaten alive by the bugs and it doesn't seem to bother her at all.
Melinda, one of the older women. She's 32, even when I introduce them as older I know Melinda was over there going, "what?" But she is interesting because she's the antithesis of what you normally see on the show in that she's got her fingernails and her hair's colored and she's a singer and entertainer. But she kept telling us, "Give me a chance. Let me show you what I can do." And so we did and we will see.
Bruce, karate instructor and high school art teacher. Bruce is probably the most emotionally honest person that's ever played 'Survivor'. He just, he can't help himself. He's gotta tell you how he feels and he's gotta tell you how he feels about you. And he's gotta tell you what he's doing. And he's gotta tell you what it means to him while he's doing it. And it's a tricky thing because that can be enjoyable for awhile but it can be annoying if it goes on for too long. And that's going to be Bruce's dilemma is how does he stay true to himself and not bug people because he's a really nice guy. I keep saying this and you guys are going to see it later and next season you're gonna say, "you're right, this was a good group of people." But you have to monitor how much you give people of yourself.
Courtney, a performance artist. Once again, this is a girl who firewalks and she is very spiritually based. And Courtney came out trying to solve some things. Courtney had some stuff to go through with herself out there. Courtney is another person who, she sees a dead fish and she's torn. Should we eat it or give it a burial? You know when you're hungry and you're Cirie, that's gonna drive you nuts. But Courtney is going to be somebody that you will definitely remember.
Bobby Mason we talked about, that's Bob Dawg. Bob Dawg gonna do this. Bob Dawg gonna eat a hot dog.
Ruth Marie is, I think the oldest woman. She's only 48. She's in really good shape, she's a runner but she's really lean. We've seen this a lot. People come in already lean, if they last long, it's hard on their body. They don't have enough fat to live on and they get small fast. That's what worried me about her going into it is: if they don't find a way to eat will she be able to keep her stamina up.
Shane we talked about. Shane is the guy that owns the entertainment marketing company and he's the guy who smoked three packs a day and I referred to as a homerun.
Tina is the logroller.
Sally Schumann is a social worker. She's 27 and she has a really appealing quiet confidence about herself. She's a smart woman for her young age and she's very composed. That's something that I think people sometimes forget about on 'Survivor'. They're so quick to react and I think Sally is one to sit back and let others act and kind of just access and not panic and know that there's always another day and if not well that's the way the game went.
Nick, financial sales from Tempe. Nick didn't show a lot coming in. I couldn't gage him at all. He's an athletic guy. He's on the young guys tribe and he seems to be a really smart person but very reserved. I don't always know if that's a true person's nature, a person's true nature, or if they're playing the game already. People have gotten really wise to the fact that I'm a part of the game. So, they only show me certain things as well. Nick's a big question mark for me.
I think that's everybody.
Question: Can you tell me how it's decided who goes to Exile Island?
JP: I can't. I can tell you this, that's it's their game.
Question: Is there a reason why you guys discontinued the luxury items.
JP: We didn't actually discontinue them. We still have them bring them. Funny you should ask, they come into play this season. But in answer to your question in a bigger sense, the luxury items played more when the show was new because of the emotional 'we miss our family', 'here's a picture of my baby', stuff like that. As the game has gotten more involved, strategy has taken over so much and they just haven't played yet. This season, that's the other thing, we look at what the luxury items are and if there's some story we can get out of it then we'll consider it. But if it's just...like a lot of people bring...they bring a pillow. There's nothing there.
Question: 'The Amazing Race' website went live today and they have a two hour premiere which I don't think 'Survivor' has ever had. Is there any reasoning behind that or...it would extend the Finale of course?
JP: We're really, what's the word, restrained in how we tell our stories. We don't believe, we will never do a show like American Idol where "after the break we're going to tell you something." We're going to tell you right now. That's been Mark's sort of mantra from the beginning, content, content, content, content. Even for us to get an extra half hour from CBS we have to believe that we can fill it with 90 great minutes, not 90 pretty good minutes. One hour is a lot to take in. We have a lot of content we don't show you. I'll be really curious to watch two hours of 'Race'.
Question: The idol in Exile Island, supposing it is found...once it's found like on 'Guatemala'...it's found and it's over and done with or does it go back and get buried again?
JP: That is a good question. If the idol is found and played then it would go back out again. The idol is good through the final four and then it's no longer good. So there is a strategy to it. And the couple of other things that you have to think about is if you're out on Exile Island, your chances of finding it the first time you're out there, it could be really good, it could be really slim. But what's to stop you from grab...this is what I kept thinking might happen is...what's to stop you from grabbing, you know, a rock and putting it in your pocket and saying, "you're not going to believe it. I found it." That's the great thing about this, is nobody knows who has it, they don't know if it's real. And because I don't have to play it...you know with Gary...I keep saying this because it's a big thing. With Gary, he had to play it before the vote. So there's no real threat there, it's definitely a free pass which is valuable.
Question: Did you guys learn from that?
JP: And now it has this huge power. You don't think I'm telling the truth? Vote for me. Take your chances. If so you better spread some votes somewhere else because I'm not going home and somebody else is. You could theoretically, you could have a situation where you have six people and five of them vote for me and I've got the idol and I cast one vote and with one vote I get somebody out of the game.
Question: And how did that stack up, this twist, compared to like the 'Thailand' fake merge and the ghost tribe of 'Pearl Islands'?
JP: Like I said earlier, I think it's fundamentally changed the game. It can't be stated enough. It changed...think about it...somebody said it earlier. You come into this game thinking, okay, here are the strategies surrounding voting. As long as I have one extra vote or team up with...you've got all these strategies in your head. Now I'm telling you, guess what, after you vote there's going to be a reveal. That changes, it simply changed everything. The last thing I would say on that is, it's kind of like with Gary, even though his played out very quickly, what we've learned with these twists is, it's not necessarily the event. It's not necessarily when the idol gets played. It's the notion of what might happen. Does somebody have it, are they gonna play it tonight, are they lying? Those are the things that give you all your drama. Because, actually, once it's played it's kind of over. It's all the stuff leading up to it that changes the game in so many ways and suddenly you can't vote out Sally because she just got back from Exile Island. And I said this early on that I would imagine there's a time when people might not care about...might not think that going to Exile Island is such a bad thing.
Question: I want to ask you about the challenges this season. No one has really touched on that. Can we expect anything different?
JP: Well, a lot of fun challenges. In 'Guatemala' we really did go for it in terms of pulling out all the big challenges that we hadn't yet done that were physical. You know, we have a backlog of challenges. Every season we come up with however many challenges and then we end up using half of them and they go back into a pool and we change them a little bit. This season, this was just a fun season. We have some challenges that we've never done, you know. And it was fun and we're back in the water which is also fun. I would say in comparison to 'Guatemala', where 'Guatemala' was just full on difficult, these are the kind of challenges where you're just sitting at home and going, "that looks fun, I'd like to do that" or, "I wish I had that setup in my backyard."
Question: You talk a lot about 'Guatemala' not being your favorite season, why is that?
JP: I just, I can only, I'm in a place in my life where I just want to be me. I want to be who I am. And I've been that way for the last two years on 'Survivor'. I'm not going to say things I don't believe or hold back things when I feel them. For me 'Guatemala' is not how I would chose to spend my time. It wasn't that much fun. It doesn't mean it wasn't a good season. I'm not casting any aspersions on any of the people that were on the show. I just didn't enjoy going to Tribal Council and arguing all the time. There's a fun way to volley back and forth. If you say black and I go, "black, really, cause it looked like gray to me." You can have a little fun. But when it's, "you said black." "Yeah I said black, you got a problem with that?" It's no fun.
Question: Do you get to see footage of them at the camp or are you restricted to what you see at the challenges?
JP: I'm not restricted but I don't look at anything. A, there's really no time, we're fairly busy. Just the logistics of moving in boats from one place to anther for a rehearsal and then back for a challenge. And then a creative meeting takes up a lot of your day but I don't really have any desire...there'd be fun stuff to see but I like knowing that I can walk into Tribal Council and know that I'm treating this game pretty fairly. Obviously I know some stuff. I have to know some stuff because I have to know what's the storyline. If they tell me, "Look the storyline is that they've been fighting for the last three days", I gotta know that so I can get into the conflicts. But I've said this for years and anybody that ever gets to sit in on a Tribal Council sees it. It really evolves very naturally by simply saying, "what's the state of the tribe? Is everybody pulling their weight? Are people not getting along?"
Question: Do we have any quitters this season?
JP: I tell you who would be a quick candidate is Shane because three packs a day for 20 years aint gonna be easy. Honestly, I think we always have candidates. I think that in the first, and I don't even know if I would hear about 'em, but in the first three to six days, there are always people who are considering quitting. Because it is the most incredible shock to their system. You think, "there's no way I can do 33 more days, there is absolutely no way and then typically people make it to day four or five and they get a little bit of hydration and they start to go, "I can make it. And you know what, I want to make it." That's why I always tell them when I meet them right before the show starts, I say, "When you're down, that's my foot on your chest. And when you're up, that's me high fiving you." Because I've always believed that they want to do it themselves. They like encouragement and I've become much more encouraging but I think these people want to overcome these obstacles themselves.
Question: It sounds like a great twist this season, how do you top Exile Island when you guys are thinking of new things to do?
JP: We battle that every time we sit down to be completely honest. Every time. I mean, we've already started thinking about Survivor 13, what are we going to do. But we came into 'Exile Island' saying what are we going to do. We had all these ideas on the table. All kinds of really cool and different things that we've never done. We just kept spitballing and spitballing and spitballing and we kept coming back to using this 'Exile Island'. One day we just decided, that's it, 'Exile Island'. And now we start building around it. I think we'll keep coming up with stuff. It's the same question that the writers of 'Lost' or 'The Shield' or anyone else has. You've got to keep it fresh but that's what you get paid to do
( Thanks to MayanSun/survivorfever)