What a difference an episode makes.
Over the course of one hour, “Survivor: One World” lost its reviled bully to a medical concern, cemented a new power alliance with an idol, and brought both tribes together with a last-minute merge.
So, with all of that going on, it seemed like the perfect time to check in with “Survivor’s” 74-time Emmy-award-winning host* Jeff Probst.
*Not mathematically accurate.
Gordon Holmes: The show just lost one of the most hated villains of all time last Wednesday when Colton Cumbie was removed from the game. Did you realize at the time how big of a bad guy was being carted off?
Jeff Probst: I had no idea how ugly Colton was being at camp. I saw one display at Tribal Council when he talked about “I have a black friend, a housekeeper, who I pay.” I didn’t realize how aggressive he was in treating people and how poorly he treated people. Colton is one of the few people I can recall where the audience just has a true dislike for. He’s different from Russell (Hantz) who you just might love to hate.
Holmes: Think we’ll see Colton again?
Probst: Russell you bring back. Colton, I don’t think you do. I can’t imagine celebrating Colton and bringing him back. But, I could be wrong on that.
Holmes: Some people love Russell, some people hate Russell. This Colton hatred seems pretty universal.
Probst: On one hand, Colton is honest. This is where he comes from, this is his truth. But, that doesn’t excuse it. And I think it would be hard to root for him to win the game ever. And I had no idea when he was evacuated how much people despised him. So, it’s always a little weird for me if I had known. Would I have had an attitude with him?
Holmes: I’m going to give you a quick compliment. Don’t be alarmed. But, I think one of your strong points is when it comes to racially charged Tribal Councils like with Bill and Colton this season or Phillip (Sheppard) and Steve (Wright) in “Redemption Island” you don’t take an attitude with people. Rather than breaking it down from your point of view and being, “You’re right” and “You’re wrong,” you seem to embrace the old writers’ adage that, “No villain ever thinks he’s wrong.”
Holmes: We’re twenty four seasons into this social experiment; do those put-it-all-out-there moments still excite you?
Probst: Any time somebody brings up differences in how they live or how someone looks or their race or their sexuality and they’re willing to talk about it, I get very excited. That’s the fabric of our society. That is what it’s all about, all of our differences. You think you’re right and I think I’m right and the truth could be somewhere in the middle. I don’t know, sometimes the truth is over on the left. So, I like having those discussions. It never surprises me.
Holmes: I’m at risk of having my “Survivor” press badge taken away for two reasons. First, I make Dream Teamers cry.
Note: Dream Teamers are the crack crew of talented, athletic youngsters who practice the show’s immunity and reward challenges.
Holmes: Because I beat them in challenges too often.
Holmes: And second, I have no idea what’s going on with these twists. You bring out Redemption Island and my first instinct is, “There’s no way anyone can come back into the game and win.” Then it almost happens twice. A challenge goes a different way and Ozzy Lusth is a champion.
Holmes: Matt Elrod and Andrea Boehlke could’ve been serious spoilers too. Then, you announce One World and my first instinct is, “This is great. We’re gonna have all kinds of inter-tribe mingling. I can’t wait.” Then, the exact opposite thing happens. One minute you have Michael stealing a pick axe and the next these two tribes won’t even share fire.
Probst: It’s crazy!
Holmes: What were you anticipating when the One World idea came across your desk?
Probst: We’ve talked about two tribes living on one beach for ten years. We were never sure we could pull it off. There were issues about identifying the tribes. Another concern is that it would be one big love fest and they’d make one big fire, one big shelter and we’d have this mess of twenty people living together. Fortunately, Mike decided to start stealing stuff off the bat and it was game on.
Holmes: So for the sake of one pick axe, the whole season became cutthroat central.
Probst: I never understand that. Stealing? When you need votes to win the game? How does that work long term?
Holmes: If I’m a Manono guy and I witness that? I’d put that in my back pocket and happily rat Michael out when I needed to.
Probst: You need to be on this show.
Holmes: Sign me up. The only problem there is I’m not good looking enough to be a good-looking guy and I’m not quite nerdy enough to be a nerdy guy. You need to keep the show going until I’m old enough to be the cranky geezer.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes