Jeff Probst “likes to figure out on his own what’s going on,” Mark Burnett says

As usual, the New York Times bats cleanup on a trend: this time, commenting on Jeff Probst’s evolution into the best reality host on television. While Anderson Cooper held that post during Survivor‘s early years, when Jeff was just finding his way, he’s now the clear leader.

Back then, the Times’ Claire Dederer points out, Jeff “was eager and freckly. He buddied up to the contestants. He smiled constantly. His voice was softer than it is now. Tribal council seemed actively to pain him. He wore shorts.” But eventually, Jeff “became what he is now: a methodical, meticulous interviewer, more police investigator than talk-show host.” And, most significantly, as a fan of the show, “he’s simultaneously haughty and fascinated.”

While the paper doesn’t ask Jeff about his job, it does talk to producer Mark Burnett, who says that Jeff’s Tribal Council interrogations usually aren’t based upon advance knowledge of what’s happened back in camp. “Jeff gets some information about what’s going on, but he doesn’t need to know much. He likes to figure out on his own what’s going on. Some tribal councils might last one-and-a-half to two hours while Jeff gets the talk to where he wants it to be. Jeff is very interested in people and things, and that comes across,” he said.

A Survivor Figures Out What to Do With Himself [New York Times]

Surprisingly, man not eaten alive on Eaten Alive

Eaten Alive

Discovery Channel’s happy family holiday special Eaten Alive aired Sunday, rewarding viewers for their two full hours of viewing by ensuring that they spent quality time in the company of others instead of wasting that time doing something else that might not have been as satisfying, such as buying things that have labels which accurately reflect their contents.

Winter 2015 reality TV debut schedule

winter 2015 reality TV schedule

Mark your calendars with all these upcoming reality TV show debuts, including Celebrity Apprentice, The Bachelor, and another season of MasterChef Junior, all of which kick off in early January.

There are also 20+ shows debuting in December--including the one-off return of The Sing Off. No winter break for reality TV.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.