Jeff Probst Breaks Down 'Survivor China' And Offers Up A Sneak Peek At The Season
Has there ever been any talk of doing a winter edition or location for 'Survivor'?
We have talked about it, but I don't think it will happen for a few reasons. One it would be terrible to shoot in the snow and cold for the crew. Also not only would it be extremely rough on the contestants, but who wants to watch a show where people are hiding out trying to stay warm and don't ever go off to conspire with one another.
What is distinctive about China and why was it chosen?
There are tons of temples and bamboo out in the location. It was really hard to go out and find a remote area where there weren't a lot of people because in China there are just millions of people everywhere. But we found this great little area about 2 hours away from people in this tiny town of Jiang Xi (the closest town which is 2 hours away has 4 million people living there). This area we found is called Lake of a Thousand Islands and it is very rural and surrounds this man made lake that literally has tons of little islands all around it.
China wasn't easy to film in either. It was blistering hot in the beginning and it rained a lot too. One of the camps completely floods out which is great television because you just see how heartbreaking it is for that tribe.
Were you able to incorporate native people into the show like in previous seasons?
Yes we have one family that comes to teach the winning tribe how to fish because fishing in this area is not like it has been in seasons past and it was very hard for the cast to fish. We also send the group to spend the night on the Great Wall of China for a night which is pretty amazing. When they first arrive they are a part of a Buddhist ceremony at a temple which causes a little controversy with one of the cast members.
After so many seasons is there anything that impresses or shocks you anymore?
You know I am always kind of looking for someone to root for and I think it is important that there is that person that the audience roots for. I think it is important to find conflict, but being able to find those 2 or 3 stories that are positive is always great. I can say there are some great villains this year.
Is it hard to keep Survivor fresh with all of the new reality shows popping up all over?
I think that one of things we really have going for us is that us along with ‘American Idol’ have "real" moments where you are seeing a person react in the moment and how it all plays out and a lot of shows don't have that or fake it.
The cast members aren't being sent off to an island for exile this time around so what is new about this season?
This year they are getting "kidnapped" and sent to the other tribe. So it will be interesting to see how they work the other team, do they not give a lot of information or give too much, does their tribe trust them when they get back and I think this makes for some interesting moments.
Why was the cast brought back down to 16 people?
It is really hard to film 20 people because it is hard to show them all on TV and put stories behind all of them. We found that going back to 16 people like we did in season one made for a good schedule as well because we could tape an activities portion of the episode every 3 days instead of every other day in some cases on the bigger casts.
From Jeff's point of view tell us about the cast members and what they are like?
James – The most physically fit guy we have on the show. He is the most agile player we have ever had. But also a total Gentle Giant. Very quiet unless you upset him and rile him up and then he tells you how he feels which doesn't necessarily work for him.
Dave Cruiser – Totally nuts, looses his mind and works so hard as a player to total exhaustion. He is very entertaining and has a big heart.
Jamie Dugan – Very interesting. She is a sorority girl/honor student from South Carolina. Very good head on her shoulders and knows how to deal with people very well.
Todd – Very young. He has been watching the show since it first aired and is finally old enough to compete. He knows this show better than any player before and is a great story teller, he knows when things should be happening in regards to competitions, when tribes could get changed, etc.
Eric – Very similar to Ethan, quiet, polite kid who is really a follower. He played the "I am Nice guy" card.
Amanda – Former Miss Montana. Great athlete. Very strong and she really understands the game she seems to play the game a lot like Amber did.
Peih Gee – Very strong opinion and tells everyone what she is thinking. Has a lot of will power and is very kind.
Sherea – Very much a fish out of water when she arrives and had no business being on ‘Survivor.’ But she quickly embraces everything about the show. She has a very strong point of view and loves to talk and will go head to head with anyone.
Denise – The lunch lady. She is so endearing. She has a mullet, but she explains that because she works in food she has to have hair she can keep out of her way but also wants to look and feel like a lady so that is why she has her hair that way. She is very much what you see is what you get.
Ashley – A WWE wrestler. Very unique look and very physically fit she is a strong woman but still very much a DIVA.
Chicken Morris – He is one of a kind. The oldest player out there and he has to learn to play by balancing knowing how to do everything with just playing the game and not taking over.
Leslie – Christian Radio Host. Religion is very important to her. She has very strong faith, but it will be interesting to see how she uses that and if she follows it completely.
Aaron – Can read people very well. He is a bartender and knows what it takes to make people tick and what he has to say to them to get them to like him and what they need. He is very much a leader.
Courtney – The tiniest cast member out there. But very witty and sarcastic. I think she is the most opinionated one out there and definitely the most negative cast member we have ever had. Her size could be a liability for her out there even though she passed all of the physical tests to be on the show.
Frosty – Youngest member ever on 'Survivor'. Very physically fit and gifted.