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'Survivor' host Jeff Probst says they would 'definitely' do fan voting again

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Monty Brinton/CBS

When we spoke with host Jeff Probst on day one of filming Survivor: Cambodia—Second Chance, he said there was “chaos and scrambling out of the gate.” Probst also mentioned how CBS approached him the day after the live vote reveal, asking when they could do this again.

Well, Probst may not have an exact timeframe in mind—but he does say “we would definitely do it again.” He also talks about the risks and rewards of turning voting power over to the fans, explains what makes these returning players so different from previous ones, and drops a clue as to something we may see at the start of the show. Read on for part two of our chat from Cambodia.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How is a returning players season vibe different? You’ve done a bunch of all new newbie seasons in a row and now you have these returnees. How does it feel different to you when filming?

JEFF PROBST: That’s a great question, because typically it’s different in that returning players are more of a pain in the ass. And it always disappoints me that they try to push us around when we’re saying, “Look, we know you know the deal. We get it. And you’re our stars. That’s why we invited you back. But don’t push so hard. Let’s just do this with the same respect.” And they typically don’t. It doesn’t mean we don’t invite them back. We love them. It comes with the turf.

What’s interesting is, and what I will remind every other returning player is, this group has been so kind and courteous. We sent them on this huge journey though old, historic parts of Cambodia, and they were smiling every part of it because some of them have been waiting 15 years. And so they don’t take it for granted, and they appreciate it, and they remember, “Wow, this is a big deal. There are 350 people out here creating this adventure for me!” And I will remind future players: For what it’s worth, even though you might have only played two years ago—Kelly Wiglesorth, Terry Deitz, and Jeff Varner were super kind and a joy to work with. And as a result, the energy here is really electric, because we want them to do well. We’re rooting for all 20. We know what it means to you. You hear guys like Savage or Jeremy say, “I need this!” They don’t just say, “I want to do it.” They need it. The difference between want and need is the difference between everything.

I agree that there’s definitely not the entitlement among this group that you felt with the first All-Stars cast, where those guys had been in movies and commercials and Nash Bridges or whatever. You don’t feel that with this cast.

Yeah, and as a result I feel the audience is going to root for them in a way that they haven’t before. And, obviously, the investment from the fans—you voted them in so you’ve got a rooting interest in who does well in this game. And I really like that. It proved to me that our audience is as loyal as I suspected for the last 15 years. Tens of millions of votes cast for their favorite players. Right on! We would definitely do it again and I would definitely turn it over. And I’ll tell you, a lot of friends of mine who are producers of television emailed me after the announcement and said “Are you out of your mind? You’re turning the entire cast?” And their emails would say things like, “I could see you doing one player. Or maybe one tribe. But 20 people?” And look at the cast we got: diversity in ethnicity, diversity in sexuality, in age, regional, everything.

For more ‘Survivor’ scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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