"When it came to the advantage, we also gave them a bit of wiggle room to negotiate with the player."
Survivor viewers just watched Elizabeth Beisel learn a valuable lesson on the Island of Idols in the premiere episode, which aired last week.
Elizabeth was given the opportunity to compete in a fire-making challenge against Rob, and if she won, she'd earn herself an Immunity Idol that would be good at her next two Tribal Councils.
Elizabeth, however, predictably lost the faceoff to Rob, and as a result, she lost her vote at the season's first Tribal Council session.
"Survivor is full of pitfalls like this. Sometimes, if the deal is too good to be true, it probably is," said Rob, who has made hundreds of fires in his life and thought it was "ridiculous" Elizabeth chose to face off against him.
Jeff discussed with EW how producers structured Boston Rob and Sandra's role in the game in terms of how much latitude they were given to bargain and haggle with their visitors.
"Here's how the relationship with Sandra and Rob evolved from a creative point of view. During pre-production, we involved them in the process and asked them for any ideas or any lessons they thought should be included during the season," Jeff recalled.
"We then got the Survivor creative team together and went to work creating the structure for which lesson would play in which episode, what it would entail and what the advantage would be. Once we were on location, we treated Sandra and Rob as on-camera producers."
Jeff continued, "We would write up the idea for theSurvivor lesson we were going to feature in the episode, and some suggestions on what they might say, or questions they might ask of the visiting player."
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Jeff and producers apparently then met with Rob and Sandra off-camera to talk things through.
"We walked through the beats of each lesson several times, like a rehearsal. And with each run-through they took our ideas and made it more and more their own. It was amazing to watch," Jeff shared.
"Then the night before each visit, they would stay up late and just walk the beach working it out over and over, so that by the time the player visited, Sandra and Rob knew exactly what they wanted to do and how they wanted to structure the visit."
Jeff then elaborated on how much "wiggle room" Rob and Sandra had during their meetings with castaways on the Island of the Idols.
"For instance, if the advantage was a hidden immunity idol, Sandra and Rob had the flexibility to make it worth one, two or three Tribal Councils. It was up to them," Jeff told EW.
"Their goal was to give up as little as possible while trying their best to entice the person to take the lesson. So, if they felt they needed to sweeten the deal to make that happen, they had the authority to make that call."
Jeff admitted that like "any trueSurvivor winner," they were "stingy" with their offerings. However, Rob and Sandra had "a great read" on the players, according to the show's host.
"[The mentors had] a great read of who was going to need a bit more to be persuaded to say yes. It's also worth noting that we offered to build them a shelter but they were adamant that if they were going to be preaching the life lessons ofSurvivor to new players, they too had to be living in the same conditions," Jeff revealed.
"So when you see a player visit Island of the Idols, that really is the camp where they are living... and they have big plans for expansion!"
Elizabeth chose to lie to her tribemates about her experience on the Island of Idols, and she avoided getting her torch snuffed at the first Tribal Council on Night 3. Based on the edit of the first episode, no one seemed to notice she had lost her vote.
Instead, Ronnie Bardah, a 35-year-old pro poker player from Brockton, MA, who currently resides in Henderson, NV, was voted out by his Lairo tribe through a 9-2 vote.
Vince Moua, a 27-year-old admissions counselor from Merced, CA, who currently resides in Palo Alto, CA, received two votes.
"I was blindsided pretty hard. I did not expect that. I thought I was contributing to my tribe, and it just sucks. It's pretty embarrassing to be voted out first," Ronnie said following his ouster.
"It's going to be a big disappointment to the poker world and to myself, but hey, I made some mistakes. And in the game of poker, you've got to learn from your mistakes. Coming on Survivordefinitely wasn't just about the money. A million dollars is great, but you can't put a price on an experience like this."