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Survivor: South Pacific premiering in 8 weeks, Jeff Probst making headlines now

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Written by : published Wednesday 20th July 2011

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It's been a pretty productive off-season for Survivor host Jeff Probst.  A few weeks back, it was announced that he will be getting his own daytime talk show on CBS beginning in Fall 2012, and just last week he was nominated for yet another Emmy for Outstanding Reality Show Host (an award he's won every year since it's inception in 2008.)

Add to that, Survivor: South Pacific just wrapped filming.  If you don't know, South Pacific is this Fall's installment of Survivor, it's 23rd season.  Yes, Probst has been a busy man.

Perhaps most interesting of all though, is Probst himself responded to the website SurvivorSucks.com a few weeks after Redemption Island ended in May.  He tackles head-on some of the haters and some of the more controversial decisions made on Survivor over the past year.  Here is his response in it's entirety, as posted on SurvivorSucks.com on May 31st, 2011:

My first response to Survivor Sucks... it only took 12 years. #58 [-]

Posts: 1 (05/31/11 04:11 AM)

Well, this is quite a moment for me.  I’m finally joining the conversation.  After years of Survivor Sucks abuse I’m entering the fray with a smile on my face and the slightest touch of optimism that this may answer some of your questions about whether or not I still care about Survivor.


I got a google alert about an “Open Letter To Jeff Probst” so I clicked on it and then realized that I could respond with my twitter account and just like here I am... joining your conversation.


The truth is I actually enjoy criticism of the show and I welcome suggestions on how to improve the show and a lot of you are very good writers.  But this site reached a point where it was so negative, so sarcastic and so cynical that it was hard to separate the worthy criticism from the full-on haters. 


Don't misunderstand.  I like opinions and I love different points of view.  That's what it's all about.  But I have read stuff on here

that is so dark and twisted it does make me wonder why so many of you take the time to post when it seems like you really don’t even like the show.  I'm hoping it’s because you actually do care about the show and you’re just very vocal.  If not, then I would guess that you're house bound and really have nothing else to do.  If that's the case that truly is a bummer and wish for you a speedy recovery.



Okay onto the letter – you don’t like Redemption Island.  I get it.  Fair enough.  I’m not saying it’s the end all be all either.  I think it’s a twist worth exploring and that’s what we’re doing.  When you’ve been on the air for 11 years and 22 seasons you have to try new things.  It’s the invoice for being successful for this long.  You have to give the audience "The same thing only different."    You can make fun of that line but if you want to know how storytelling on a successful show works, it can be summed up with that line.  "The same thing... only different."


I realize there are pros and cons to Redemption Island.  No need debating the list.  I don't disagree with any of the cons you mentioned and I've never said that any of the pros are earth shattering.  It's just a twist.  We tried it in S22, we’re trying it again in S23 and we may try it again in S24.  We may do it for the rest of the series and we may never do it again.  The show is an on going experiment.  It ebbs and flows.


What I do take exception to is the rant about me and the rest of the Survivor team not caring about the opinions of our fans.  That’s just silliness.  We listen to feedback all the time.  We solicit it and it comes to us.  CBS does focus groups, I get people stopping me on the street.  It’s constant.  It’s endless.


Maybe you don’t feel we listen to YOU specifically, but generally speaking we listen.  The job of a producer is to listen to the criticism, both good and bad, and then decide what they think is best for their show.   For example, if I listened to every person who said Russell should never be on the show again, we would not have asked him back for Survivor: Redemption Island.  Yet, one of the highest rated and most talked about episodes in our history was the night Russell finally left the game…for good. 


You have to use your judgment as to what will be the most entertaining.  We think Redemption Island is worth another shot.


I get that you may not agree. 


Moving on.


As for the final 2 vs final 3 debate.  Look, it’s opinion about which is better.  Not fact.  A final 2 offers some great drama but also makes it so easy for the winner of the last immunity challenge to simply pick the person he/she knows they can beat in the end.  I’ve heard many people complain about seasons in which we did a final 2 that the final vote was a blow out because “Nobody was gonna vote for… (fill in the blank).”


I'm not saying Final 2 is wrong, but that doesn't mean it's right.  We may go back to a final 2 at some point and try it again.  Nothing is locked in stone.



You guys complain that we’re going back to the same places over and over.  Have you looked at a world map lately?  Between political unrest and dangerous weather, finding suitable spots to shoot Survivor is not an easy task.


We have a crew of over 300 people who have to be housed and fed.  We need several isolated beaches.  We need a government that will work with us.  We need to know our crew is safe from unrest and weather.  We have to be able to take over the island for 5-6 months.  We have to be able to afford accommodations and shipping.  The dollar is falling.  Budgets are shrinking.  This is a business, not a travel agency.


So yes we will be repeating locations.  It’s yet another “good problem to have” and an unavoidable truth that comes with being on the air for 12 years.



This is where you guys are the toughest.   It’s okay, I can handle the complaints, but just for the record - let’s review my contributions to the Survivor conversation.


For years I wrote a blog for EW.com.  Damn thing took hours to write.   Hours. I didn’t get paid a penny, nor was I contractually obligated. I did it because I wanted to keep the Survivor conversation going.   


Every week people would complain that I was:

a. “trying to be too clever”

b. “not clever enough”

c. “telling us things we already know”

d. “not telling us enough things.”

e. all of the above


I finally decided to create my own website, “JeffProbst.com” so that I could bring you some Survivor behind-the-scenes features and people immediately complained that I didn’t respond to enough questions, or post enough material. 


Let me tell you the truth - the site cost $20,000 to build plus monthly maintenance.   I paid for it.  I post the blogs myself.  My little fingers typing in the keys.  It’s usually late at night after a long day. 


There is no staff.  No big room full of paid employees.  I do it from my house to keep the Survivor conversation going.


I make the videos and I post them as well.  Myself.  And because they take hours to upload to Youtube, I even woke up early on Thursday mornings to post them to my site.  Myself.  You think Ryan Seacrest is doing that for AI fans?    


Then, in an effort to be more interactive and personal, I tried video blogging.  It cracked me up that people even complained about that - saying that they couldn’t watch the video at work and would I please write a blog as well.


This season, I started to tweet live during the show.  (Yes, I stole the idea from Howard Stern.)  I had to beg CBS to offer some support because nobody thought there was any value in tweeting live.  I started tweeting and within a few weeks lots of people on lots of different shows were tweeting.  CBS even did a "tweet week."


I dedicated every Wednesday evening for the entire season so I could tweet live for both costs and people would  still complain:

a. your tweets are spoiling the show please stop

b. your tweeting some of the same stuff you did during the east coast feed

c. your tweets are boring

d. why aren’t you responding to my tweets?  I thought this was interactive?


Fortunately, it’s as funny as it is annoying.  But ya gotta give me a little credit, don't you? I've do my part.  I can't respond to every comment or every tweet.  I do have other things I want to do in life besides Survivor.  It's called balance.



Here’s my wrap up.


I think there are some good writers on this site.

I think there are some total assholes on this site.

I think some of the good writers are also the assholes.

I think some of the good writers are probably pretty decent people.

I think there are some valid criticisms made on this site.

I think there are some ridiculously absurd criticisms made on this site.

I think there are some very funny posts and funny animations on this site.


I am confused as to the purpose of this site.  It still eludes me why anyone who appears to hate Survivor as much as some of you do, would dedicate the hours it takes to post a response.


I am glad the site exits because it does make me smile to know you guys are still engaged enough to talk about the show.


I am glad my cherry has finally been broken and I am no longer a Survivor Sucks virgin.  This day was long overdue.


Yes, this is me.  I’m sure many of you will doubt it’s me and others will race to post pretending to be me.


I can assure you it’s me because I know how the clues for the hidden immunity idol will work next season and no matter how many spoilers you may think you have, you don’t know that answer.  At least not yet. 


I do not anticipate responding again anytime soon – it doesn’t mean I don’t care, I just really don’t have anything else to say right now.


So if there are other posts claiming to be me, they’re most likely fake.  But hey it’s all part of the fun right?


Believe what you want.

So there you have it!  Probst, I'm a believer!

Be sure to check back in as we cover all of the bases heading towards the Survivor: South Pacific premiere on CBS, Wednesday, September 14th!  For more rumors and speculation, be sure to check out Survivor Examiner.

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About the author SurvivorTom


Tom Santilli is a respected journalist and member of the Detroit Film Critics Society.  He writes several on-line columns, most notably as the Detroit Movie Examiner and the Survivor Examiner for Examiner.com.  He also is a contributor as a Survivor-Insider to TVGeekArmy.com and writes exclusive Survivor in-depth episode analysis for TheTVKing.com. He has been featured on Rob Cesternino's "Rob Has a Podcast" and most recently landed the only exclusive Richard Hatch interview given since his latest legal trouble has surfaced. All of Tom's Survivor coverage as well as movie reviews can be found on his blog the "FilmSurvivor", at FilmSurvivor.com

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