“Survivor” Executive Producer Mark Burnett participated in a conference call this afternoon to discuss next Wednesday’s premiere of “Survivor: Redemption Island” and the future of the “Survivor” franchise.
How Will the Redemption Island Twist Work?
Mark Burnett: The very first person (voted out of the game) goes to Redemption Island. There on Redemption Island they live alone. The same conditions, the same amount of food, almost nothing to live with except it’s even worse because they’re completely lonely and alone. And they’re waiting for what happens next in episode two when the next person is voted out of their tribe and joins the first person at Redemption Island. In episode three, person one and person two compete in the first challenge of the episode. It’s a face-to-face duel. And some of the members of their tribes who had voted them out get to be spectators and watch the one-on-one duel.
The winner of Redemption Island stays on Redemption Island, the loser now actually goes home. Week four, there’s another duel, spectators come from the tribes to watch, and it goes on.
How Will “Boston” Rob Mariano and Russell Hantz Factor Into the Game?
Mark Burnett: The two of them probably have an advantage. In the first episode, when they arrive it’s a surprise to the tribe. The tribes are there, there are sixteen of them there. And then Jeff says, “But the game hasn’t started yet. By the way, there are two more players.” And a helicopter lands and out steps Russell and Rob. And their (the contestants) faces are like, “Oh my God. I can’t believe these guys are back.”
Jeff explains there are 150 days of experience between Russell and Rob. Jeff says, “You can get rid of them if you want, or you can use them to your benefit. There’s 150 days of experience.” But that means one of two things; either use that experience to get to the end, or fear that experience and get rid of them. It’s up to you, it’s “Survivor.”
Will “Survivor” Continue After “Redemption Island” and Will Jeff Probst Continue as the Host?
Mark Burnett: We haven’t dealt with it. We’re massively in post right now. It’s based upon ratings. It went up in Season 21 (Nicaragua) despite the move to Wednesdays. The assumption is we’ll continue making “Survivors” because hit shows stay on and shows that don’t, don’t stay on. There’s a core fan base of viewers who’ve followed the show from night to night.
Did Russell Hantz Leak Spoilers Online for “Survivor: Samoa” and “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains”?
Mark Burnett: I found out the same time you found out. I read it online. I had no idea about it. Don’t know if it’s actually true. As of this minute, I still have not had a conversation with CBS about it. I should probably call someone and ask someone.
How Frustrated Were You by NaOnka Mixon and “Purple” Kelly Shinn Quitting “Survivor: Nicaragua”?
Mark Burnett: I was frustrated. I think Jeff (Probst) was more frustrated, just because Jeff’s actually on the show and living that journey with them. It’s surprising. The one thing I’d tell you, the biggest struggle we had was based upon precedent, and legally there was no way to kick them off the jury. Believe me, Jeff would have done that in five seconds and I would’ve approved that.
We’ve made a change, that going forward if indeed someone was to quit, it’d have to be pretty extraordinary circumstances that they’d stay on the jury.
Would You Consider a Celebrity “Survivor”?
Mark Burnett: Would I be thinking about an all celebrity version? For charity. If CBS wanted to and it was a really good reason and like a shortened version for charity at some point? Yeah, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
How Do You Feel About Casting Fans vs. Casting People Who Are Recruited?
Mark Burnett: All sorts of casting things come our way and we try to make the most balanced cast we can. You’d probably think that someone who really knows the game would be better at it. It’s one thing contemplating “Survivor,” a whole other thing being out there and not eating and being in that temperature.
“Survivor: Redemption Island” premieres, Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.