‘Survivor’ Host Jeff Probst Breaks Down the ‘Second Chance’ Twists


"Survivor: Second Chance" (CBS)

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Strap your buffs snugly around your head or wrist (or go for the tube top look if you’re feeling saucy), because “Survivor” season is finally upon us!  “Survivor: Second Chance” will kick off with a special 90-minute premiere on Wednesday, September 23rd at 8 p.m. ET.

With a season made up of twenty returning contestants, you know there’s going to be some curveballs. So, I spoke to the man himself, “Survivor” host and Executive Producer Jeff Probst, to get an early look at the trials and tribulations he has planned for our returnees…

Idols in a Variety of Styles
“Usually the idols all look alike and are all very ‘Survivor’-ish. They are cast out of some sort of resin or something. You look at it and think, ‘This has to be an idol.’ This time, we’re making every idol different. One idol might look really polished and finished, and the next one might look like bits and pieces of leftover string. The next one might look like it’s made by a seven-year old as a craft project. Both of them will have the same power, but how do you convince somebody that it’s a real idol? Or will somebody get fooled and think it isn’t a real idol? Or, will someone make a fake idol thinking this is a season where they can sell it as real? The levels of gameplay with the idols should be really complicated because nobody is anticipating that an idol would not look like an idol.”

Idols Hidden at Challenges
“We’re also going to make finding the idols a little more difficult. Instead of finding an idol at camp, you’re going to find a clue. And the clue is going to say, ‘The good news is you’re very close. All you have to do is be courageous enough to grab it during your next immunity challenge.’ It will be sitting in plain sight, all you have to do is reach for it. So, while you’re participating in the challenge, and while you’re trying to help your tribe win, you’re thinking, ‘How can I get that idol and put it in my pocket without anybody seeing?’”

Shaking Up the Returnees
“We’re going to start with two tribes and then we’re going to switch it up a bit. We’re going to try to make it tougher to keep alliances together. It doesn’t mean they won’t. But we’re going to try to keep the game a little uneven. And I think they want that. I think they want the entire full-tilt boogie experience. That’s what we’re going to try to do without making it feel like a runaway train without any boundaries.”

The Return of the Double Vote?
“I can’t say. I liked it. I think it can work. The thing I really like about the extra vote is it’s uncertain if it’ll have any impact on the game. I like that. It’s a great advantage if you get the opportunity to play it. But, Dan played it and was voted out. So, it isn’t a foregone conclusion. I like adding layers like that that don’t have a certainty to their outcome.”

Second-Chance Challenges
“Once we had our list of 32 possible players, we had to start building challenges. We looked at the list and said, ‘Let’s make some assumptions. Maybe Joe will make it, maybe Wiglesworth will make it. Maybe Spencer and Ciera.’ Then we started picking challenges that they had participated in and started building them. Then you have to hope that they get voted in. Then you have to hope that they last long enough to play the challenge that you slated for them. From a thematic point of view, we were going for second chances as often as possible. In our very first challenge we’re doing ‘Quest for Fire’ which we did fifteen years ago. Kelly Wiglesworth will play again. I will say, ‘Kelly Wiglesworth did this fifteen years ago and she lost. This is her first second chance to change that history. And it’s not just challenges that they lost. Just that they participated in it. We still have to serve the big picture that is; which are the challenges we love and of them, which ones match up with our second chancers? And when it was over we said, if there are six or seven that pertain to our players, that’s great.”

Steps to Break Up Pre-Game Alliances?
“I don’t see pre-game alliances as a concern and I never have. Some producers on our show get really worked up about it and think it’s going to spoil the game. The players have no idea what the creative is, they have no idea what tribe they’re going to be on. It’s something I would do. I’d call some people. But if you don’t end up on my tribe, or if a better alliance comes up to me, now I’m in a bad spot if I promised you something before the game started. I’ve talked to a lot of former players and they say everybody calls everybody, then you get out there and it goes away. And if it doesn’t, if somebody has a pre-game alliance and they’re able to keep that together for 39-days? Nice job.”

Any Questions: Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

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