Entertainment Television

Burning questions for Jeff Probst

By Nelson Branco, 24 Hrs

Survivor host Jeff Probst breaks down the venerable reality series for 24 Hours readers. CBS

Survivor host Jeff Probst breaks down the venerable reality series for 24 Hours readers. CBS

"The claws are already coming out; there are hidden clues and risky romance," teases CBS promoting the second episode of Survivor's 35th season, which airs Wednesdays on the U.S. network and Global 8 p.m.

"There's a lot of uncertainty, it's really scary," confirms Ryan Ulrich in a commercial.

Good thing too because the premiere of Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers was a bit on the lacklustre side but bygones - that happens even with the best of shows. As for getting a Survivor romance - which rarely happens these days - fans are betting that fellow Healers Cole Medders and Jessica Johnston are the rumoured couple but who knows - the show could be throwing us off.

Now that it looks like we're off to the races, 24 Hours decided to tackle a few hot topics with host extraordinaire and executive producer Jeff Probst in part two of our interview on whether or not he thought Survivor: Game Changers worked and how this year's theme organically flourished.

I love the theme this season. Did it come easily?

I wish they did come easily but they don't. Part of it is because we've been on for so  long. It's also because it's the way we approach creative - which is to first cast without a theme. Yes, it's risky and nerve-wracking but it allows us to find only interesting people. Then, when we start to get into the double digits of the group, we start thinking how they are similar or different? Heroes are always easy to find and so are Hustlers because there are a lot of people who are the get-it-done-no-matter type but it was finding the Healers that broke it open for us. We finally have a group of people who put everybody first and they always have - either emotionally or physically. Once the tribes came together, we thought we had a very worthy social experiment.

Kicking off a season with three tribes - what does that do for you as a producer?

Three tribes just gives you more mathematical possibilities. So when you have three tribes of six and you split them down the road, you have a lot more cross-pollination and crossover; and no matter what people say on day one to their initial alliance, you'll never know if you're ever going to switch again and if you have to make a new alliance. It's the nature of the game: you have to bond with the people you're going to tribal with. Once you make that new bond, what happens when you merge with your original alliance? That's why we do mixes. And the players anticipate when that happens because there are only so many episodes where we can switch. When you reach in for a random buff, anything can happen!

Game Changers - were you happy with it?

Yes, I was! I look at Game Changers and think, man, all those moments that happened, culminating in the in the final episode of the season where everyone pulls out their guns and start shooting at each other - and still fans said, 'It was pretty good.'Pretty good? Holy s---! What more do you want? But I get it. I always say to our team, 'If your storytelling continues at a high level, which I feel like Survivor has, you're going to teach the audience to want better and better. But there is a point where you can't tell the story better than you already are because it is real life and unscripted.'