Jeff tells listeners that this is the only podcast that takes you inside the making of Survivor from the people that make Survivor. He’s alongside two other producers, supervising producer Brittany Crapper and podcast producer Jay Wolff. Every week they will use each episode of the currently airing season, Survivor 44, to take the fans behind the scenes, explaining how they make the show and, most importantly, why they make the decisions they do for Survivor to come alive on our screens.
HOW THE GAME STARTS
- Brittany asks Jeff why he is making this podcast after 22 years and 44 seasons. Jeff explains that he got a call about how CBS was doing a recap podcast, and after brainstorming about it, they decided to use this idea and expand on it.
- Jeff loves this season and its players; he says they witnessed many future returning players.
- From a game perspective, the most surprising aspect was the cage with an idol inside. Jeff explains that they decided to use the idea of a “public idol” to test the players further to see who and how a player would risk getting an idol in a public forum. Producers decided to introduce the cage to the viewers simultaneously as the players so that we could better understand the players’ thought processes.
- How to make sure the Sweat and Savvy challenges are equally measured? Through testing, modifying, and adapting in the art department, and also through the “Dream Team,” which is a team that runs through the challenges to see if they work, and if not, make the necessary adjustments for when the castaways play them. These challenges are there, so players are forced to make decisions and see their ramifications.
- Why is the “Journey” twist in the new era of Survivor? Jeff says that risking a vote wouldn’t have worked five years ago, but as the new era entails playing a riskier game, it was the perfect time to implement this unpredictable twist.
- Jeff explains that to get to day one on Survivor, their schedule has three phases: pre-production (planning the show), production (taping the show), and post-production (editing). These three phases overlap in a continuous loop that allows Survivor to keep evolving and remain on the air after twenty-plus years.
- Casting: Jesse Tannenbaum and his team are casting almost all year round. Casting is looking for people with the stories they want to tell and the diversity they wish to represent the show, and while the format is the foundation, the players are the ones that make it work.
- Jeff reveals he has anxiety about the show, whether it will keep working as it has until now, about this podcast itself as they’ve never done anything like it before, and that he’s constantly hearing feedback on how to improve everything. He also says that he watches interrogation interviews and reads about negotiation tactics which he draws inspiration from for twists and how to get the truth out of players at tribal council.
- Jeff admits that the way they’ve divided the tribes in the past hasn’t been accurate but that they’ve done it with a sense of looking for fairness between physical factors such as strength and height and even the players’ IQs.
- Before the game begins, the players are at Ponderosa and can’t interact with each other, but they are assessed based on first impressions. People decide how much food they eat in preparation for the game.
- There have been 16 people medevaced from the game in total. However, this is the first time in Survivor history that four medical visits were required for three different players only in the first episode.
- Jeff clarifies that he doesn’t get a say when players are pulled from the game for medical reasons; that decision solely relies on the medical team. It is also stated that the minute a player is hurt, every department is alerted so that everyone is ready in case of a medevac.
- Jeff explains why producers didn’t interfere when Matt was climbing and eventually got hurt, as there’s always a medical team on standby for both players and crew. Hence, no one is ever in any imminent danger.
- Jeff’s conversation with Bruce regarding his elimination for medical reasons: Bruce explains that he was euphoric the minute he touched the sand at the beginning of the game. Bruce doesn’t remember what happened when he passed out, only that he woke up to find Jeff next to him. Even though he only played twelve hours, he got to experience how vibrant and authentic the game was, but he missed his family too. Bruce tells us that when he returned home, he immediately went to his kids’ game events as a dad does. Their conversation ends when Bruce says he wouldn’t hesitate to play again if asked, and Jeff says that Bruce officially has an open invitation to return to Survivor.
QUESTIONS AND WHY JEFF SUCKS SEGMENT
- For going to the bathroom, do you provide porta potties? What do the castaways do? Jeff answers there are no bathrooms, and players sometimes do an “aqua dumping,” which means the players go to the ocean when they need a bathroom. They can also dig a hole in the ground for their business in a designated area called “Coconut Grove.” If players go alone to this area to use the bathroom or to change, they aren’t filmed, but if another person accompanies them, they will, as it will be assumed they’re talking about the game.
- Are people instructed where they sit at tribal? How do you determine the order of who votes when? They used to sit taller players behind for obvious reasons until a player said it was unfair for the same people to always be on the back, and that way, they got a view of what was going on, unlike those who were in the front and can’t see what’s happening behind them. Now they have different-sized stools in front and back, so players are evenly distributed. In terms of voting, Jeff sees the votes before reading them and places them in the most dramatic order possible to get the best reaction from the players.
- Does Jeff Probst stuff the torch snuffers somewhere? Jeff says he does, and they’re the only things he keeps from the show.
- Jeff knows that some Survivor fans don’t like him and to give them a voice as well, this is why they created the “Why Jeff sucks” section: Jeff is told to stop talking every second throughout the challenges and ask if anyone has ever been edited out of the show as they told him to shut up. Jeff is aware that, just like in sports, a play-by-play is needed and that it started after the first season when he didn’t speak at all and felt something was missing. Jeff then mentions the infamous Survivor Thailand challenge, where several players were disqualified as they failed to follow the rules, and people were happy when they heard Jeff intervene. Hence, Jeff hasn’t shut up throughout the challenges since then. Also, he loves when players challenge him, so no one is edited out when they call him out.