Jeff Probst admits error involving challenge that led to Richard Hatch's 'Survivor: All-Stars' booting
By Wade Paulsen, 03/04/2004
One of the first decisions in Survivor: All Stars initial set of traditional two tribe challenges turns out to have been incorrect, according to show host Jeff Probst.
Probst told the New York Post that his decision in the immunity challenge in Episode 5, in which he ruled that Rob Mariano had defeated Colby Donaldson during one of the challenge's "face offs," had been proven to be incorrect after a careful review of the videotape. Although Rob's tribe appeared to easily win the challenge, the error contributed to Colby's "Mogo Mogo" tribe, instead of "the Robfather" and his "Chapera" tribe, having to vote off one of its members, which turned out to be Survivor: Pulau Tiga winner Richard Hatch.
In the challenge, both teams were competing for flags while running across narrow planks, with a face off occurring whenever two members of opposite tribes appeared in the same face off area. During a face off, the first person to end up in the water would lose their flag and have to return to the beginning of the course and await their next turn. At one point, Rob and Colby ended up tangled on a face off plank and went in to the water almost simultaneously. Probst, who is designated as the sole arbiter of challenges according to the players' contracts, ruled that Colby hit the water first..
However, a frame-by-frame review reveals that, the first body part to enter the briny depths was Rob's foot, not Colby's arm. Thus, the face off winner was awarded incorrectly -- although, because of the contract terms, the blunder stands.
In his own defense, Jeff Probst argued that he needs more technology -- perhaps even instant replay and additional cameras -- to correctly decide such challenges. "I hate water challenges like that because when you're watching it, and a guy's body hits the water and makes a huge splash with the other guy right behind him, you can't see it without six angles."
The list of challenges that have been marred by error during the eight-edition run of Survivor is surprisngly lengthy; as Jeff himself noted, "I blew another one." The most famous such error, however, was not his fault. During Survivor: Africa, a production error led to a mistaken answer to a trivia question that prematurely ended the "Fallen Comrades" immunity challenge among the final four contestants. Since this error was not covered by the "judgment" clause in the contracts. executive producer Mark Burnett awarded the third and fourth-place finishers (Lex van den Berghe and Tom Buchanan, respectively) the same amount of money ($100,000) as the challenge winner (Kim Johnson, who finished second).
Muffs by Jeff include two challenges during the same episode of Survivor: The Australian Outback, in which this challenge's loser, Colby Donaldson, was awarded victories despite rules violations ... including a victory over Amber Brkich, Rob's teammate on Chapera, in the "rope maze." We guess that this just proves the old saying: what goes around, comes around.