FOCUS | SURVIVOR
Probst with season 41’s three tribes
vote. There were very few rewards, additional penal- ties for losing a challenge, many dilemmas, and zero guarantees. Did your role on the show change as well? JP: Yes, it’s also evolving. I now talk directly to the audience from time to time and bring them inside the game by teasing something that is about to happen so they know before the players do. We have such a loyal audience, and we wanted to involve them
And what did you conclude? JP: It was actually Mike White, a former player [in David vs. Goliath ] and one of the best writers I’ve ever met, who pointed me in the right direction. I was in my garage with a whiteboard full of ideas and called Mike to pitch him. He listened politely and then asked me a very simple question: “Is it fun?” I said, “I gotta go” and hung up. I couldn’t erase the board fast enough. From that point forward, every idea was put through the “Is it fun?” filter. After all the planning and waiting, what went through your head when you finally welcomed the players and started the game? JP: It was a combination of excitement and emotion. It was so good to see a new group of players wearing their bus. But the emotions went far beyond the game. This was the first time in over a year that all of us had been around other humans. Because we had been tested and quarantined, we were able to shoot without masks. You could feel the sense of camaraderie and community. So, how will this season look dierent from the previous 40? JP: You can’t compare. This is a reimagined game, and every single element has been heightened. We changed it from 39 days to 26— and then adjusted everything else accordingly to ensure it would be 26 of the most exhilarating days anyone could endure while still playing a game that was already challenging physically and emo- tionally. The living conditions are extremely dicult, as we did not give the players their daily ration of rice. The pace is blistering fast. The tribes are small. You are in constant danger of losing your
more. There’s also a Game Within the Game: Each week, a puzzle will be hidden somewhere, just for the fans. They’ll have to spot it and solve it. It culminates at the end of the season and ultimately connects back to the actual game. Do the players know about the Game Within the Game? JP: They have no idea! They are often walking past puzzles, com- pletely oblivious. If it works, we will continue it and make it even bigger in future seasons. In a first, the game is titled after its season number. Why no theme? JP: We designed Winners at War to be the end of the current era of Survivor. We specifically engineered it so that the best players of all time would have loads of weapons and layers of gameplay to take part in one final giant battle. And they delivered. So we felt the time was right to take Survivor in a new direction in which we focus less on overall themes to denote a season. Moving forward, the players and twists within the game will separate the seasons. This season also features all newbies. Will any alums get another shot soon? JP: Fans can safely assume we’ll be featuring new players for the next several seasons. We’re focused on introducing our audience to the next group of memorable, likable, relatable players.
If you were competing in a challenge, would you be the strength guy, the puzzle guy, the endurance guy, or the guy who sits out?
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