Jeff Probst sang Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” for Survivor cast, and other off-camera stuff

There was so much in episode one of Survivor Redemption Island that it is absolutely worth a second viewing, and a lot of it was just absurd and comic, like the way Phillip was identified as a “Former Federal Agent?”, question mark included. But there was at least one hilariously weird thing that happened off camera before the show started: Jeff Probst performed Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” for the contestants, and promises its lyrics will show up in his descriptions of duel challenges.

First, some other behind-the-scenes details. A writer for TV.com, which is owned by CBS, watched the first challenge and Tribal Council and revealed that the editing left things out and deceived us–surprise! First, Russell wasn’t responsible for his tribe’s victory during the challenge; it was just better story and better game play to make it seem like that.

TV.com reports, “In actuality, it was Dave and his exceptionally high IQ who quietly directed his teammates as they assembled the tricky puzzle. The difference with Dave is that he gave Russell credit for the victory–even high-fiving him after the two climbed back down from the pyramid. As a criminal defense lawyer, Dave understands Russell and his ego all too well.”

At Tribal Council, which lasted more than two hours, we didn’t see “some silly racial remarks between the two African-American castaways,” TV.com notes, and adds that “Phillip just couldn’t let it go and got hotter and hotter in his outbursts.” I think we need a director’s cut of that episode.

Meanwhile, Jeff Probst has left Entertainment Weekly (though he’s still answering questions for Dalton Ross on the site, but it’s even less insightful than the recaps were) and he is now recapping each episode on his new web site. In his comments about episode one, he reveals that the game started with something extraordinarily weird:

“I woke up on day one with a really powerful and positive feeling about the season. No idea where it came from, but I knew it was real. It was still hours before we were going to put them on the chopper and I had an idea.

I took my boombox, yes I still have a boombox, and I gathered the Survivors around me in a circle. They still couldn’t talk because the game hadn’t yet started. I then put on LOSE YOURSELF by Eminem. I blasted it from the speakers. I had the words printed on a sheet of paper. I went from one person to another singing the song.. well talking the song… well actually just basically screaming the song. I wanted them to feel the energy I felt — that we were sitting on the edge of something really special.

… Not sure what they thought about my performance – if they thought I had lost my mind, (which was kinda true) was a lousy singer, (very true) or maybe they just didn’t care one way or the other (quite possible.) But it didn’t matter, I really thought we were onto something and I wanted to share it. In fact, the lyrics of LOSE YOURSELF influenced some of the language I ended up using at Redemption Island duels. See if you pick up on it as the season unfolds.”

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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.