Jeff Probst to return as host and exec producer
The tribe at has spoken.
“Survivor” will continue its run on CBS, as the broadcast net renews the veteran competition program for seasons 29 and 30. The two-season pickup will take the series through 2015, and Jeff Probst will return as host and exec producer.
“‘Survivor’ set the standard for unscripted dramas,” said exec producer Mark Burnett. “We’ve never gone away from the core values of the game, but we’ve kept it fresh every season. ‘Survivor’ in its essence has been a social experiment from day one. It’s as valid today with young people who weren’t old enough to remember what TV was when the show started.”
“Survivor” is averaging 11.3 million viewers on Wednesday night with its recent theme “Blood Vs. Water.” It ranks as the second highest-rated reality series on broadcast this season in adults 18-49, following “The Voice.”
While the show has had a remarkably long history on CBS, Burnett was not anticipating such a tenure during the early years of the program.
“I remember Leslie Moonves saying to me at TCAs on an escalator before season three started, ‘You’ll be making season 23,'” Burnett recalled, quipping that he barely believed the CBS chief.
The program, which has logged over 400 episodes thus far on CBS, has established itself not only as a part of pop culture discourse with its now iconic catch phrases, but also as the blueprint for reality TV formats that were conceived after its debut.
Locations for the pair of forthcoming seasons have yet to be determined, and casting for season 29 is getting underway. Probst noted that themes for a season — like “Blood Vs. Water” — are determined after casting, once the creatives establish what kind of personalities are on the show.
Both Burnett and Probst agreed that Palau was one of the most beautiful places where “Survivor” has lensed, and the duo also praised the Philippines for its hospitality to cast members and crew.
“Africa was also amazing,” Probst said of season three. “We were living in tents in the middle of Kenya. Mark’s tent was the same size as mine, and right next to mine. Mine was next to the newest guy on the crew. There was no hierarchy.”
The days of tent life have mostly ended for “Survivor,” as the crew now shoots back-to-back seasons for CBS that translate to 78 days of shooting over a 95 day period.
“Going to a location that would require us to live in tents just isn’t feasible. That’s not good for a crew,” Probst explained. “We have to consider our crew and make sure they have a roof, toilet and shower, bare minimum.”
The key to “Survivor’s” success, according to Probst, isn’t just the compelling format that can be mined for thematic twists. Audience loyalty is also a leading factor in the show’s notable run.
“This is a show with family viewing — one that mom and dad want to watch with their kids,” said Probst. “The byproduct is you have kids who watch with their parents and become the next generation of viewers who take the show for another round. Without our audience sticking with us, we wouldn’t still be on air.”