Jeff Probst explains why Survivor will have returnees “as often as possible”

Survivor‘s future involves returning cast members, both this coming year–the fall (Survivor Philippines) and spring seasons have returnees, with more in spring, akin to Fans vs. Favorites-levels–and in the future. That’s according to host and executive producer Jeff Probst.

He was promoting his fall talk show, which premieres Sept. 10, in front of TV critics, and later, I asked him if having returning players every season was the show’s new reality. He said there would be returnees “as often as possible.” I asked why, and Jeff said,

“There’s no right or wrong, but Mark [Burnett] and I both feel really strongly that our fans like their stars. Especially for a show that’s long in the tooth, here’s an anchor: Fourteen new people and Rob, and Coach–Rob and Russell that season. It’s a little bit of a hook. It’s like a guest star. Our only situation is that, you use those up, you have to create new ones.”

In case there’s any question about whether or not this is definite, just refer to this, which he said earlier during the press conference: On Survivor, “I executive produce, showrun, and host,” Probst said. That he’s now the showrunner–the person who makes day-to-day decisions during production–explains why his name has recently started to lead the credits. This is his show now.

I asked if it’s fair to have people who know the game so well–never mind having not-inconsequential familiarity with the production itself–play against newbies who might be naive or star-struck. Probst said:

“Sure. Vote me out. Vote me out. … Nobody voted [Rob] out. I always say the same thing. They’re here to use their experience or to get rid of ‘em. But I would do the same thing they did with Rob because the advantage of playing Survivor with somebody who knows is gigantic. And the people who know that always go further. Where they get lost is, they don’t know when to get rid of them, and they hang on a little too long, and by then, Rob’s going, ‘Oh, it’s way too late. I cut your rope an hour ago.'”

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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.