‘I WOULDN'T LAST A WEEK ON SURVIVOR’
Fifteen years and 30 seasons after it helped spark the worldwide reality TV obsession, Survivor is still going strong.
While it may never again see viewing figures like the 52 million who tuned in to watch soon-to-be-tax-cheat Richard Hatch win the season one finale, it remains a favourite among reality TV aficionados.
Host and executive producer Jeff Probst has been there from the beginning, dispatching hopes and dreams with his catchphrase: “The tribe has spoken. It’s time for you to go.”
New series Survivor: Worlds Apart delves deep into class warfare, pitting tribes of blue collar workers against white collar — and “no collar” workers (coconut vendors, YouTube sensations and the like).
The four-time Emmy winner says the show lives or dies on the strength of its casting.
“I’m always amazed at how much time we spend on casting,” he says. “We have a full team and they’re working almost year round on Survivor.”
They’re already casting for seasons 31 and 32 and, as usual, there’s a shortage of suitable women. “We can find lippy, loudmouth, weird guys all day every day, but finding a woman who wants to do it … and has the personality is tough,” he says.
Heartbreaking stories don’t play well on Survivor. Probst recalls the casting team were “bored” when one woman came in with tragic story about the emotional impact of losing her husband. The next hopeful came in with a funny story about eating potato chips. “We’re on the floor laughing,” he says. “Which guy got on the show? The potato chip guy.”
Probst, who will give brutally honest feedback on audition vids if you tweet him a link, knows he wouldn’t last a week on the show.
“My closest friends said: ‘Probst, you’d be out so fast’ and I was shocked,” he says. “The thing I thought was my asset — words, verbal — are not nearly as charming as I think they are.
“And they said: ‘Oh no, you would piss somebody off pretty quick and they’d vote you out.’
“I now know that to be true.”
“I’m always amazed at how much time we spend
JEFF PROBST ON GETTING IT RIGHT
SURVIVOR: WORLDS APART, GO! THURSDAY, 9.30PM