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And so I feel like there”s this ability to talk to an audience and get feedback from them. I very often sit down at Tribal and say wow, where are we and they just start and it”s great. My best buddy is this guy Jamie Lopez and he”s the greatest trash talker on the planet.
And it doesn”t mean they dictate the show but it does seem like a really valuable tool. And I talk to him several times a day so he”s like my alter ego out there. I like getting under people”s skin because I think it”s funny.
You may not agree with his take on things — I tend to root more for the underdogs, while Probst's love and admiration for certain Alpha Dog contestants is famous/notorious — but you can't doubt his passion, even if it's for something like this season's all-power Tyler Perry Idol, which has been the source of ample grumbling on my weekly recaps.
Tony, the finder of the Tyler Perry Idol, is a Jeff Probst kinda “Survivor” player, while death-cheating Spencer is the guy I tend to root for, but in this interview, we amply discuss what makes good “Survivor” drama.
How did you feel about sort of returning to the pure version of “Survivor,” I guess. We didn”t know going in, you know — Is this gonna work? If you look at this season and last season you could, just off the five I just mentioned and then go to “Blood versus Water” and take Culpepper, Hayden, Ciera, Vytas. So we”re on a roll and also learning, “Hey, that”s right. It”ll work.” Hit Fix: Well now I”m very interested in sort of the way that your role changes per season.
Fans kept asking us for it but they had also been enjoying the returning players seasons. I will say that we felt really good about the cast. Let's see, that”s nine just without a list in front of me. In “Blood versus Water” it felt like often at Tribal Council you had to sort of poke and prod to get people to make moves and to sort of do things. I think it”s a really interesting observation because I continue to try to pay attention to my role and evolve with the show.
I feel like our casting – Lynne Spillman is our casting director and we met a couple of years ago and talked about the show. Whereas this season in large part because of Kass and Tony it seems like you”ve been sitting back a little bit more and letting things happen in front of you. And I do think there was a time, now in hindsight looking back, that I did need to get more involved.
Hit Fix: OK, so looking at the season in totality this is the first season in a couple of years that the show has done a completely All-Star free season. So I guess yes, I like returning players coming back but there is something like dating a new girl that”s also very fun about meeting a new future favorite like we did.The hate is “I love to hate him,” but you don”t want him gone and every time we have a great player and they leave, a great villain, every time we have a great villain and then they get voted out, the next week people go, “Huh, I kind of miss him.” Yeah, of course. Hit Fix: Well but I think it”s exactly what you said earlier about the Idol is that Tony has simultaneously been the sort of player who”s been in charge, but he”s also been the player who — through his own effort — has gotten, you know, these breaks as well and so it”s the big guy who”s getting the breaks which makes it may be harder to root for than say someone like Cochran.So which do you think works better from your point of view standing on the outside?I want you to do well.” It”s a constant stream of affirmation because I am rooting for them.But if you fall I will say, “Well, that dream”s over” and move on.
It's been a few years since I've talked with Jeff Probst either before a “Survivor” season or before a finale and I'd forgotten that I probably needed to request three or four hours as an interview time.