'Survivor' host Jeff Probst: "I don't like giving $1 million to an asshole"
By Christopher Rocchio, 09/14/2007
Jeff Probst isn't allowed to openly discuss his favorite Survivor castaways during filming. But he's only human.
"Secretly inside, I'm always hoping -- hoping, hoping, hoping -- that there's somebody likeable that sticks around. Because I don't like giving $1 million to an asshole," said Probst during a Wednesday conference call with reporters. "But do they deserve it? Absolutely. They absolutely deserve it if they win, because this game is hard to win. You've got to manage a lot of stuff."
While it would make him happy to see a likeable character win, Probst said it also serves a purpose for the show, as it helps give Survivor "longevity."
"I think there's enough negativity going around that it's nice once in a while to see the good guy win," explained Probst. "While it's impactful when [Survivor: Pearl Islands castaway Rupert Boneham] gets voted off -- the truth is -- you want Rupert to win. That's really what you want because you want to keep your audience there the entire season rooting, rooting, rooting. And the last thing you want to hear is, 'Yes!' That's the last thing you want to hear from an audience member, 'I love this season! I'm so happy he won!' versus, '[Survivor: Thailand winner] Brian Heidik? Ugh! Really!?"
During filming for Survivor's first season, Survivor: Borneo, Probst said crew members "definitely pulled for people."
However that came to an end when, according to Probst, CBS executives said there was to be "absolutely no discussion of favorites" because "that could be perceived as cheating." But once it got down to the Final 3 of Richard Hatch, Kelly Wiglesworth and Rudy Boesch, Probst said he broke CBS' "no favorites" edict.
"We were on our best behavior. But I've got to tell you, I wanted Rudy to win the first season," recalled Probst. "I was pulling for Rudy in the final [Immunity Challenge], and I remember thinking, 'They're out in the sun. Oh man, [Rudy] picked the wrong spot! He's got the sun beating down on him and look at Hatch... Oh Hatch just got off the... Oh this is an opportunity for Rudy! Come on Rudy! Come on, work Kelly! Work her!' I was so into it. And then Rudy pulls his hand off and [Kelly] wins."
However Probst concedes that Hatch ultimately becoming Survivor's first winner wasn't such a bad thing for the show either.
"Turns out to be probably the best first winner you could ever imagine having because he became so notorious and so bigger than life," said Probst.
Over the last 15 Survivor seasons, Probst said he's come to the realization that picking favorites isn't worth it anyway.
"What I've learned in the years since doing the show is it just doesn't matter," he said. "There are so many factors. Who you get stuck in a tribe with on Day 1 could determine your fate. If you don't get along, you're in trouble..."