Survivor: China: Probst Tells All!

Well, he didn’t reveal everything during a recent conference call with reporters, but Jeff Probst (who I affectionately call “the hobst with the mobst”) did share his thoughts on the upcoming season of Survivor, as well as on the reality genre in general.

It sounds like this season of Survivor has a lot of “est”s — not only is the setting the China-est (this was the first time an American series was allowed to shoot entirely in China), but it also has contestants who are the biggest (James), the smallest (Courtney) and the youngest (Frosti).

But the two contestants I’m now the most eager to see are: Todd, a huge fan of Survivor with a good sense of what should happen on what day of the show — the merge, a family visit, an auction (Does this imply that Todd’s around for these events? Or is Probst just toying with us in his Probstian way?); and Jean-Robert, who didn’t have a clue about Survivor but was certain that his background as a professional poker player would see him through. Probst says that Jean-Robert “actually came in with a pretty interesting strategy, which was: ‘I’m going to come in and not be liked, and I want people to not like me, and then I’m gonna be likable.'” But Jean-Robert’s lack of Survivor knowledge made for a very quick learning curve (as Probst put it, “You should’ve watched a couple of episodes, ya numbskull!”), so it’ll be interesting to see how his strategy pays off.

Other tidbits I thought were interesting from the conference call:

* Probst believes that the number of episodes this season will be 13, and there will be a clip show on Thanksgiving.

* There’s a possibility of another All-Star season. Probst says that although the previous All-Star season was a pain to produce, it was still one of their best seasons.

* The decision to reduce the number of contestants to 16 had to do with the ease of storytelling — “20 people are really hard to get to know.” Amen.

* While he doesn’t root for certain people to win the show, Probst admits, “Secretly, inside, I’m always hoping there’s somebody likable who sticks around, ’cause I don’t like giving a million dollars to an a**hole.”

As for reality shows other than Survivor, Probst says, “I’m burning out on reality in this sense … I feel like the level of BS, the level of loosely scripted moments, is reaching a plateau for me. It’s reaching a place where I’m not interested in most of the shows because I can write them before they’re finished, and they’re so obvious in their direction of where they want the people to go.” He thinks that “real” moments are harder to find, and says, “Reality, I think, has become — I don’t even know the word — I was gonna say ‘crap.'”

The new season of arguably crap-free Survivor begins this Thursday.