[Jeff Probst Interview continued]
Next question is from Susan Young of the Oakland Tribune
SY: I just wanted to ask a little bit about how you saw the way that the women reacted to Christy. Was that true? Did they really seem to kind of block her out of everything or was that just what you chose to show?
JEFF: No. It was a weird dynamic with Christy and part of it was Christyís fault. Part of it was the gameís fault. And part of it was just the difference between hearing people and not hearing people. Christy was no walk in the park either. She was difficult in the beginning. She was whiny. She complained. And I think she felt a little entitled that everybody should help me because Iím deaf. And I think she realized ďUh oh. This is a game.Ē On the flip side, I think itís a fair question to ask Jenna and Heidi, ďWere you mean to Christy because you didnít like her or did you not need her in the game?Ē Thereís a lot of assumptions I think being made about Jenna and Heidi. Iím not saying theyíre not true, but they are still assumptions until the game is over and we hear from them as to why those things happened. And really, if you look even further, the women in general did not treat Christy nearly as well as the men did. And what does that say? I mean, the men invite her over. Is that because the men are also thinking, ďHey! Maybe Iíll get laid!Ē Does it just never stop? Or was it because the men are somehow better together than women are together?
SY: Going back to the Alex and Shawna question, did you break it to Shawna that Alex had a girlfriend?
JEFF: NO! [laughter] No. I donít even know if I knew that!
SY: So do you think he was just playing the girls?
JEFF: Thatís something I hope to find out at the reunion show. Judging by how quickly he seemed to forget her in the game, I think itís a fair question. And you know, itís fun to hear people get so worked up as an audience point of view because they are the same people that would get worked up on the show and would probably be voted out forgetting itís a game. Just what you said, ďDoes he really like me or is he playing me? And am I playing him? Does he know Iím playing him?Ē It never ends and I think thatís why I have always sort of believed, even though sometimes it seems remarkable, I still believe itís not an accident that you end up in the final 2. I think that you have to Ė I think you can get lucky along the way, but people look at people like Ethan Ė how did he win? Ethan wasnít an idiot. He knew what role to play. He knew his role very well. And if you hang out with Ethan as a person now, you see that very clearly. That was a role he was playing. The nice kind of sweet guy that stayed out of everybodyís way and he won. And people said, ďAh, he got lucky!Ē Bullshit.
Next question is from Phil Rosenthal of the Chicago Sun Times
PR: How does this one rank in terms of the other Survivors in your mind?
JEFF: Itís top 3. Iíd say 1 is probably always going to be my favorite because, come on, itís like a first girlfriend. It never gets better. And between Survivor: Australia and Survivor: Amazon, man, theyíre both really good! Itís definitely one of the best ones weíve had and really, itís driving us nuts because, as we prepare for Survivor 7, you canít help but look at it and go, ďOk, what are the elements? How do we duplicate this?Ē And the answer we always come back to is you canít. You know, we can throw as many twists and turns into the set up. We can change the game many different ways, but, Iíll say it again, if you end up with a final 4 this time that does not include Jenna, Heidi and Rob and the crazy guy, you just donít have the same fun. And putting the men versus the women and having somebody that gets nakedÖ all those things, they just happen!
PR: Are you ever surprised by the editing? By how it plays out on the air?
JEFF: Not really. I mean, truthfully, as weíre out there the storylines are developing every 3 days. We pretty much know this is the episode where Shawna wants to quit and then the tribe switch happens and Shawna gets excited and thatís going to be a big story point. So you pretty much know whatís happening out there. I feel for some of the people because I think itís hard to have your entire essence filmed for 39 days, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I think itís tough because the conditions are miserable. Theyíre miserable. And you do get in bad moods. And you do say things that you wish you could take back and you canít. And we use them. And we tease them. And we make sure weíre in big fat close ups when we go to them. Thatís the game. Thatís part of the social politics of this game which is why, I think for the survivors, something you just sort of brought up to me is, living the 39 days is a very different experience from watching them on television afterwards. And many times when I talk to these guys, youíll hear them say, ďI didnít know so and so was saying that about me. Had I known that, I would have voted them out earlier!!Ē But no, I feel sorry for the heat they take in the press, certainly Jenna and Heidi have had a rough go of it this time, but did they ask for it? Yeah!
PR: And are you really obligated to talk to everybody at the reunion special? It seems to me that was a real problem last time Ė that you found yourself running out of time, as you noted a few times during the show Ė and
JEFF: Thank you for saying that. You just made my decision for me.
PR: Ok. What are you going to do?
JEFF: Iím going with the show thatís entertaining. I do wrestle with it because Iím not obligated. You know, the humane part of you says, ďthese guys want one last chance to be on TV and say something and have their friends see them.Ē And you canít help but feel that way. But youíre right. My obligation is to deliver as good a show as I can in the 30 or 40 minutes that we have actual time. So, youíre right. Honestly, you just cinched it for me. When a journalist says that it reminds me that Iím doing the same sort of job.
Next question is from John Maynard of the Washington Post
JM: Are there any other reality shows out there right now that you are enjoying or that you watch?
JEFF: Iíll tell you the one that I really am sad that I missed. I saw the last episode and that was Nashville Star. To me, that is a music contest. I realized watching it that those guys have been writing songs for years. They perform their own material and they are living the life. Theyíre not young kids who just popped up from Alabama and say, you know, ďHey, Iím a singer.Ē And it really made me appreciate that show. And Iím not a country fan. I would have loved to have watched that whole show. Another show that Iíve kind of been digging is American Chopper on Discovery. I love the relationship between the father and the son. I donít know if you know that show. They build motorcycles and itís a great show. Iím curious to see what will happen with American Idol. Because I like those guys. I like Ryan. I like Simon. And they do a great show. I went to a taping. Itís a really well done show. Iím curious to see how itís going to find its legs. What will it do to sustain. Because they are in the same situation we were after Australia. All the press was on us every single week and gave us publicity. Upped our ratings. And then they walk away. They say ďYouíre on your own now, guys.Ē
JM: Any thoughts on Mr. Personality?
JEFF: Spooky. Itís just spooky, man. Seeing those guys in the masks is a little weird!
Next question is from Manuel Mendoza of the Dallas Morning News
MM: I came in a couple of minutes late so I donít know if the obvious Rob question has been asked.
MM: How has he done this? I have been amazed at his ability to double cross, lie to people and then turn around and get them back on his side even though they know exactly what he did. Why didnít they just all get together and vote him off?
JEFF: I donít know the answer to that question, but for the first part of it, as far as Iím concerned, granted this is my own humble opinion, I think Rob is playing the game the best anyone has ever played it. And I say that because his philosophy is based on understanding what your best move is going to be and making his move based on what your best move is going to be for you. Thatís why I think he is able to flip flop. Because he not only understands the people heís close to; he understands everybody in the game and what they need to do and then finds a way to provide that for them. And you think about it, why arenít they voting him out? Because they are trying to figure out how to stay in the show and not get voted out themselves! Rob shows up with the answer. [Jeff does a great Rob impression]: ďWhy donít why donít the 3 of us do it? Hey, hey hey, listen. I was with the 3 of them, but this is what theyíre gonna do. The 4 of us shouldÖĒ Heís been great! He canít control his own fate. I mean, thatís his only problem. It doesnít guarantee him heíll get to the final 2, but Ė a perfect example is last season with Brian and Clay and Jan and Helen. When Brian and Clay went to Jan and said, ďHereís how itís going to work. Helen is number 4. Youíre number 3. Isnít that neat?Ē Jan shouldíve said, ďThatís great, thanks. Helen, screw those bastards. Itís you and me. Letís take Ďem on.Ē You know, thatís how you play the game. The minute youíre down, you flip flop, but a lot of people donít get that.
MM: Yeah, and Christy didnít get that.
JEFF: Christy blew it. B to the L to the E to the W capital IT, BLEW IT! She could have still been in this game. You snooze, you lose.
MM: One other unrelated thing. I noticed them wearing rain slickers the last couple of weeks and I think theyíve been a little bit better fed this time, although itís always hard to tell. I guess in the end, Survivor isnít really about Ė I mean, itís hard being out there, but it isnít about starving or being soaked all the time.
JEFF: No and you know, I donít know if itís going to come up in the live show even though I want it toÖ time wise I just donít know. The weight loss this year is dramatic.
MM: It is?
JEFF: A lot of weight loss. You really forget. We have guys losing over 30 pounds. The first person out, Ryan, he was only there 3 days, lost 8 pounds. Thatís in 3 days! Itís a miserable experience from a food point of view. Miserable. And when we show them getting hot fudge sundaes and apple pie and all that, first of all, itís usually 1 or 2 people and itís the only thing theyíve had decent in 8, 9, 10, 15 days! And it goes right out of their system. So they have not been better fed. They lived off manioc Ė and in terms of rain slickers, yeah. That was a choice we made and I think it was the right one because it rained so much, your clothes get wet. They never dry. Youíre miserable. And we walk a fine line from a production point of view which is we donít want people to quit on us. We donít want them to be so miserable. You know, Deena tells a story about losing the Coke challenge. This is Deena. A district attorney. An adult. A mother. And she said, ďWhen we lost that Coke challenge, I came back to our camp and I said, ĎYou know what? Screw it. I make $120,000 a year. I donít need this crap anymore. I want out of this game.íĒ She said it was so demoralizing to see something that you remember the taste of and you know how good itís going to go down and then they get it. So, when she told me that story, it was a great reminder to me, because Iím always out there going, ďLetís hard core it. Letís hard core it! Donít give it to them!Ē And usually thereís someone wiser saying, ďBut on the other hand, guys theyíre dying. Theyíre not doing anything. They have no energy.Ē
Next question is from Ellen Gray from [had to change my tape] Daily News?
EG: I had read [on TV Guide Online] that the way the vote was going to go on Sunday was different. That there was going to be no delay or something. Does that mean that theyíre not going to be walking up and down mountains talking about how much better people they are because theyíve been on this show?
JEFF: Not necessarily. No. That was not the intention was of that comment. Thatís not what that comment [that you read] meant. (ed. note: you could tell that Jeff had no idea what she was asking. Neither did I.)
[Colleen tries to clarify for Jeff and make sense of Ellenís question]
JEFF: Oooooooooh. Ok. Yes, itís a little different this season. The final immunity plays out at tribal council. So weíre there. Thereís no time to go home and talk about it. Thatís very different.
EG: But that doesnít mean that the last 2 are not going to have a day together wandering around in the wilderness?
JEFF: No, they do have that day. A lot of times they have time to think about it. Who are they going to pick and things like that. This time itís Ė itís not a big story beat. Iíll tell you that. Yeah, sorry.
Next question is from Rick Porter of the Tribune Media Services
RP: Especially with Rob this time around, he seems to have been all about fore knowledge of previous Survivors and Iím curious as, for the past 3 years that these have gone on, how much you see that sort of previous knowledge of how the game goes affecting the play in each subsequent edition.
JEFF: In a huge way. Richard Hatch Ė you could argue that Richard would not have the same success because nobody needs to be led like that anymore. He was ableÖ he was so far ahead of everybody at that point that he was able to lead people and they didnít even know what was happening. That wouldnít happen today. Thatís why I say that I think Rob has been so smart about it, because of what you just said. Heís really learning from the game and I think the longer it goes on, itís going to continue to affect the game and youíre going to get to where Ė Iím trying to think of an analogy. Itís almost like Ė this is a terrible analogy. No good. It has a huge impact, though. And it has a huge impact on us because we have to continue to figure out ways to fool them and ways to keep them off their toes. And yet, certain things are inherent in our show that we need. Weíre running out of tricks. The best thing that can happen Ė the BEST thing Ė is that more people learn to play like Rob because then you have a real game. And Iíve said it before, John Nash developed this game a long time ago called ďSo Long SuckerĒ and it was based on all the principals that Rob is using. About how to anticipate based on other personís best move and once you donít need them, you get rid of them. Period. Friendship doesnít enter into it. When Iím done with the role you have served for me, I cut you. And those people typically should do well in this game. Doesnít mean theyíll win, but overall, if you look at how they finish, theyíre going to finish a lot higher than the people that show up thinking itís a game to make friends.
Next question is from Jill Venosca of the Atlanta Journal
JV: You always seem to have great insight into the way people think, but especially listening to this conversation, I canít help but notice that you really seem to understand the way the male mind works. [laughter] All the guys that thought they might get laid if they were nice to the women, and also, you compared the first Survivor to your first girlfriend. Iím wondering, especially in the beginning of this game when it was men versus women, did you find yourself sort of unconsciously rooting for the men or being really embarrassed when they started behaving like such idiots and you never snuck over to their camp just to hang out with the guys did you?
JEFF: No, Iím not a guyís guy in that sense. I thought the guys were idiots and I was hoping they would get trounced. I would have loved the women to just run them just one at a time and be left with a tribe of 8 women. That would have been a dream for me. Because I am a guy, I know what idiots we are so I took particular joy in watching them express that for all of us. How easily manipulated we can be. Here they are at tribal council, ready to vote their first guy out, and all I do is say, ďWhat do you think about the women?Ē ďOH GOD! Shawnaís really hot. And we love Jenna!Ē And Iím thinking, you guys are getting ready to vote one of you out. One of the 8 of you is going home and itís not even on your mind because thereís still a chance that maybe theyíll be the next one voted out and you will get laid after the game. Itís true! And I think the women knew that much more than they let on. Shawna knew what the hell she was doing. Playing that innocent, coy ďoh well thank you! Iím glad youíre interested!Ē [thinking] ďHeís in my pocket. That guyís in my pocket. Heíd like to date me.Ē If she could have played a little harder, she would have stayed in the game longer, too.
JV: And the guys never sort of appealed to you as a guy? I mean, they never like gave you a sort of look during a challenge or something?
JEFF: No. No, I think if anything Ė the truth is, Iím neutral. I really, honestly donít care. I hated to see Ryan get voted out because I knew he wanted to be in the game, but I took particular joy because I told him when I first met him, ďYouíll be first out.Ē And I loved having that little glint in my eye as I snuffed his torch and he knew I knew. [laughter]
JV: And Iím not trying to take your job away from you, but do you think Survivor would change at all if a woman ever hosted it?
JEFF: Yeah, it would change a lot. Because a woman has such a different point of view toward life. She would probably bring up things I donít even consider in terms of relationships and social dynamics and how people get along. I mean, I do my best to try and look at all elements of relationship that are happening out there and try to throw curve balls or put thoughts in peopleís heads that might not even be true just to see if you can affect them that way, but certainly, in this game it would have been drastically different had a woman hosted. And Iíd be living back in an apartment.
Next question is from Hal Bodeker of Orlando Sentinel
HB: Can you tell us a little about the pre-interviews. Give us a taste of what this live show might be like. What are people saying about Rob?
JEFF: Rob Ė they either love him or hate him. I think nobody can deny the fact that Rob has played an incredibly solid game of Survivor, now that we have our own little lingo. But a lot of people have been turned off by his sassy one liners and Rob had his stint there where he was kind of the jealous guy that wasnít getting any attention and he didnít like it that Dave was sleeping with the enemy and I think thereís things like that that turn people off. On the other hand, people love his sense of humor. His lines like, ďI just took a bath with a supermodel. Iíd like to repeat, I just took a bath with a supermodel.Ē Heís a funny guy. And thatís what makes a good character. Same with Jenna and Heidi. There are a lot of guys that would like to sleep with them and a lot of girls that would like to slap them. [laughter]
HB: Has there ever been a romance on Survivor that has lasted?
JEFF: Not that I know of. I really donít. Iím thinking back, if I even know of any true romances, and I donít. Has there been flirtation and probably some sexual energy that needed to be released after the show? All the time. But does it translate later? I donít think so.
HB: Do you have a favorite among the victors of the 5 shows so far? Has one of the victors done better handling all of the attention than the other people?
JEFF: You know what? Theyíve all been really different, actually. I mean, Richard Ė you canít help but love Hatch because he just embraced it with such a cockinessÖ ďthat Iím going to change the scope of television with my personality.Ē Tina is a sly fox. She is a competitive woman! And so she was very different. Africa Ethan. Ethan has taken it and done a lot of good. Heís got this charity in Zimbabwe with soccer and Ethan is a young, single guy, but heís really not using his money to buy a house or a car or anything. Heís using it to fulfill his passion which happens to be getting soccer throughout the world and helping kids. Vecepia? Whereíd she go? She disappeared. She came in, she got the money, she built the house, she had a baby. See ya later. And then Brian. I actually donít know what Brian is doing. He probably wants Hollywood and celebrity more than any of the other winners that weíve ever had. And I donít know if heís getting it or not. So no, I donít have a favorite. Iím buddies, I mean, one of my best friends in my life is Colby from Australia. Not a winner. Coulda been! And loves to be reminded of that! But we would have become friends had we met playing softballÖ
HB: Where is he now? What is [Colby] doing?
JEFF: Heís living in LA. Heís really done his best to kind of avoid any Survivor reality show related things. Heís still a big part of the Survivor family and heíll do anything for the show and the show loves him, but he wanted to try and forge a career as a legitimate actor. You know, heís a young, good-looking guy. Very charismatic. And so heís been taking acting classes, working with coaches and heís landed a few gigs and heís been up for a lot of good stuff. And Colby is the kind of guy that when he puts his mind to something he usually achieves it. No matter what it is. And I actually have a lot of faith that he might be able to forge a career as an actor.
HB: Will we see any of these people Sunday night?
JEFF: Thatís a good question. Colleen could probably answer it.
Colleen: Yeah, weíve got a significant amount of alumni who are attending. I think last count was 30 something.
Next question is from Donna Petrazello of the New York Daily News
DP: Sounds like you just so enjoyed the men versus women and it had so much to do with the show and how it played out and everything. I guess, whatís the final analysis from the production perspective on how that worked out and does the concept have legs? Do you think the viewers want to see how another round of men versus women might be different?
JEFF: The men versus women experiment played out terrifically for us. And it certainly gave us a few nights of no sleep in the beginning, worried that what if the women canít do it? What if they lose every challenge? What if the men dominate? What do we do? The last thing we want is a game of 8 men. So we were worried, but then the women quickly told us in their actions, ďRelax. We may not have the best camp, but we are competitors.Ē So, it was a home run in that sense. And the big question for us is should we do it again? We donít really like to repeat ourselves. We kind of take pride in the fact that we continue to switch things up. But itís been so interesting that it certainly is something weíve considered if itís worth doing again. How would it be different? On the other hand, it worked once. Maybe you just let it sit. And this was the season we did men versus women. Thatís something that only the future will probably tell.