Viewers can expect tense moments between “fans” and “favorites” in Survivor’s upcoming Micronesia season, according to Survivor host Jeff Probst. In a media conference call, Probst revealed several details about the show’s first ever mix of previous contestants with Survivor fanatics. If you’d prefer to watch the season unspoiled, then stop reading – because Probst dropped several intriguing hints about how the Survivors react to each other. Viewers can expect a “record number of blindsides,” more than one showmance, and as for Johnny Fairplay? Probst still can’t stand him, but hey – he’s good TV.
Exile Island is back, and reportedly will play a big part in this season’s game play. Or as Probst put it, “a MAJOR part this season. [Immunity idols] have more impact this season than ever before.”
Each week one person from each tribe will have to go to Exile Island, so that it will always be one fan and one favorite on the island to promote cross-tribe alliances. However, there will be only one hidden immunity idol on the island, and one single clue. “One clue, one idol – how is this going to work? How are you going to sneak away and look for it without the other person? What do you do if you both find it? Who will own it? No matter what, they’re probably going to know you found it – how do you keep them quiet?”
Survivor China’s James Clement had two immunity idols but failed to use either of them to protect himself from being voted out. It has been touted as a tremendous mistake – but according to Probst, his reign as the Survivor-who-made-the-biggest-immunity-idol-mistake is already at an end, because another Survivor does something even worse in Micronesia. “We have someone this season that makes an even bigger blunder – a major blunder. I know when it happened, James was thinking, ‘Thank God!’”
From the start, the fans and favorites will be pitted against each other. “The first few moments on the show we bring the fans out onto the beach. Then we bring out the favorites, and it’s like we’re at a rock concert,” described Probst. “Then when they realize the favorites really weren’t there to make any new friends, the game quickly became Us against Them. That’s how they hunkered down. The fans wanted to make sure that a fan won the game, and the favorites wanted to be certain that no matter what a favorite won the game.”
Probst pointed out that the favorites had a distinct advantage when it came to basic survival skills, but that knowing how brutal the experience was by the end of the show affected their enthusiasm for the game. In short, they knew it was going to get hard – whereas, the new players hadn’t lived through the deprivation before, and had optimism on their side.
After fifteen seasons, viewers have seen all the strategies there are to be seen, right? Probst says emphatically, no. “We have a record number of blindsides this season. It’s amazing how many blindsides there are in a row. You’d think after this many seasons that pulling off a blindside would be tough, but it just showed me you really have to have your wits about you in this game. If you’re not aware, you’re in the fog. If you’re in the fog, you’re in trouble. My jaw dropped at so many tribal councils.”
CBS recently announced that they will pick up two more seasons of Survivor, and all indicators are that Probst plans to be there. “All you have to do is step inside my shoes for a single moment and you’d understand why I’m still on Survivor. I get to travel the world, I get to host and produce one of the most fascinating shows on television, and I get paid more money than any college drop-out should ever dream of making.” When previous rumors that Probst might be unhappy with his role as host, he dismissed the idea, saying that the only time he considered it was when his contract was up for renewal a few years ago.
But for now, he’s enjoying his involvement on the show, and was especially happy to return to Palau. “It’s hands-down the most beautiful place we’ve ever been,” he said. “In China, we were back in a sort of base camp, it wasn’t the best situation. Palau allowed us all to be in really nice hotels, right by the water. It was nice for Production.” And viewers benefit too, he pointed out, by having clear underwater shots and gorgeous scenery.
Survivor Micronesia is the sixteenth installment of this award-winning series, in which ten fans of the show are cast along with ten favorites from previous seasons. Survivor premieres Thursday, Feb. 7, at 8:00 P.M.