Mark Burnett’s ex-wife claims she named Survivor, picked Jeff Probst

Survivor executive producer Mark Burnett’s ex-wife is claiming in a forthcoming book that she not only named the CBS reality series, but also helped to cast it, including selecting its host, Jeff Probst. And season-one winner Richard Hatch wrote the book’s foreword, giving her credit for “the island she’d helped to establish,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Dianne Burnett’s web site bio says “Dianne and Mark Burnett joined creative forces to introduce a new type of television show — Eco-Challenge,” and also mentions “the tremendous role Dianne played in launching Survivor.”

But Mark Burnett says that similar claims in her book, The Road To Reality: Voted off the Island!…My Journey as a Real-Life Survivor, are not true. Burnett, who previously insisted he did not know that his own company was suing a Survivor spoiler, told THR, “Every now and then, when something is just plain wrong, you’ve got to speak out. If she did so much, so long ago, where are all her new shows?”

Jeff Probst told the paper, in a comment that has some sexist overtones, “I saw [her] over three seasons maybe five times — always in catering.”

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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.