Jeff Probst says Survivor Cook Islands represents the series’ “rebirth,” says sponsors left before they knew of the twist

Survivor host Jeff Probst told reporters yesterday that the new Survivor Cook Islands, which debuts next Thursday, represents the series’ “rebirth.”

However, that’s not entirely because of the race twist, but because “many of the participants had never seen previous installments, and were not as calculating or savvy as previous contestants who had studied the series to map out possible strategies,” according to the LA Times’ account of the call. He did not mention how this is possible, since so many of the cast members are actors and/or from LA.

Probst said the casting and tribe organization “re-energized” the series, saying “I think you’ll see a freshness.” He also again addressed the twist, repeating his basic line. “”We actually felt that dividing them ethnically was a positive idea, because it came from our discussions in casting, and we kept coming up with the same theme, which was ethnic pride. … When you’re talking with a group of white people, it doesn’t come up. White people are mutts, we’re just white, we don’t have any ethnicity we hold on to,” he said.

He also denied that sponsors leaving the show–GM backed out, as did Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and Campbell Soup–had anything to do with the twist.

‘Survivor’ strategy: Divide and conquer [Los Angeles Times]
Probst defends ‘Survivor’ tactic [New York Post]
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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, 37, 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.