He's the man in the middle
By Loh Hsiao Ying (Straits Times)
HE MAY be just the show's host. But Jeff Probst has had enough close shaves to warrant being a true Survivor.
In past seasons of the hit reality show, Probst, 41, has been stung in the nether regions by a jellyfish (Pulau Tiga) and on his Achilles heel by a scorpion (Africa).
He has had run-ins with a king cobra (Thailand), got nitrogen narcosis (Marquesas) and hurt himself when he urinated on an electric fence (Australia).
He foresees even more dangers in the new season, Survivor: Amazon, which starts this Friday.
That, and the fact that, for the first time, Survivor will be split into male and female camps.
He spoke to Life! over the telephone from Los Angeles last week. How did gender differences work against the teams?
The men seemed to need to prove they were the strongest and fastest. They felt pressure to succeed because it was expected.
But the women had a better understanding of how to work together.
On Day One, the men got out their machetes and chopped logs, but the women braided each other's hair and talked. The women understand that the game is about social politics. Life's more than being an idiot. How did strategies change when the contestants realised it was men vs women?
Some of the cute girls had planned to wear their swimsuits all the time, and some of the guys thought they would flirt to get girls on their side.
It completely changed everybody's strategies. But there were certain people who were really happy about it. What would be the worst-case scenario?
It was risky to split the men and women up. We worried initially that the men could physically dominate and the women would fall behind.
If we ended up with all men, we'd be in trouble. But the women did just fine on their own. Because they were separated, the sexual tension increased. It was funny. It was like a dating service. With all these gender differences, how do you think a gay Survivor will turn out?
I don't know. That's interesting. It's something I'm pretty sure we'll never do. But maybe that's a show you and I can do together (laughs). How would you fare as a contestant?
I don't think I'll do that well. I have a strong point of view and I can hardly keep my mouth shut. People will think I'm too lippy and vote me out. What would be your luxury item?
Probably a journal. Writing would help me cope with things. Where did the 400-strong production crew stay?
In the Amazon, we were lucky because we had a hotel. It was built on stilts. But a lot of other times, we stayed in tents. You must love your job.
It's the best job ever. It's been fun from the beginning. I feel very lucky. Do you ever feel sorry for the contestants?
Never. They know what they are getting into. Will there ever be a cold-environment Survivor?
I doubt it. The cold will be hard on the equipment. Also, your body shuts down. And honestly, we don't want people in parkas. We want them in bikinis. Have you ever been attracted to the contestants?
There have been some cute girls. But it's funny because when you are hosting, you don't look at people that way. How is the Amazon more challenging than the other places?
In Africa, you can see the elephants, giraffes, lions. But in the Amazon, you can't see the anacondas, piranhas and alligators.
In the middle of the jungle, your mind starts racing. There's fear. You never see these animals but you know they are lurking. What if someone got attacked?
We have a team of medical professionals and ambulances on hand. What if you were attacked?
(laughs) That's a good one. (Producer) Mark (Burnett) will just step in.