LIVE quizzes him about the secrets of misinformation and survival

By Erin Podolsky
Updated January 29, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST
Jeff Probst, Survivor
Credit: Jeff Probst: Monty Brinton
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Although CBS has the Australian set of ”Survivor” 2 sealed tighter than Richard Hatch’s voting alliance, managed to sneak a coconut phone into host Jeff Probst’s tent. After plying him with a couple of grilled stingrays and a vat of tapioca pudding, he opened up (sort of) about life, love, and rumors about ”Survivor” 2, which debuts Jan. 28 — right after the Super Bowl broadcast.

You’ve become synonymous with ”Survivor.” Are you afraid of being typecast?
I’d hate to be typecast by it, but it’s a double edged sword. It’s like the guys from ”Friends.” ”Oh, you’re one of the ‘Friends’ guys.” Well, yeah, ”Friends” was a big hit. I mean, yeah, everything I do is ”Survivor” oriented now, but there are worse problems to have.

Speaking of ”Friends,” will you, like Jennifer Aniston and company, have a new hairdo for the new season?
I don’t want to talk about the hairstyle, but yeah, I’m preparing to unleash something that I think will probably sweep the country. I’m going to try to patent the look. I want to be Jeff Probst: That Haircut Guy.

You don’t want to talk about it or you CAN’T talk about it?
I don’t want to. I’m designing the look and I’ve worked it out with my team of hairstylists.

That’s rather ambitious. Any details?
When [people] see the look they’re going to go, ”Oh my God!” And it’ll be like tribal council in the beginning. You’ll go ”Pfft, that’s kind of stupid.” You’ll be mocking me. Thirteen weeks later? You’ll be in going, ”I want a haircut like That Haircut Guy.” See, you’re already getting more information out of me than I wanted to give.

So what are the living quarters like Down Under?
Tents. With nothing — a little bed — and then you gotta go to the compound to use the bathroom or take a shower. It’s like camp. But with no love letters back and forth. Just a bunch of smelly cameramen.

How many khaki shirt/ short combos did you really have on Pulau Tiga?
I had two pair of shorts because I didn’t know I’d be wearing shorts all the time, so they were some stinky shorts when it was over. I just bought shirts over there. Two got lost in the laundry. At the end, it was down to ”I wore this yesterday — this’ll be okay.”

”Voted off the island” was the summer’s catchphrase. But ”Survivor” 2 doesn’t take place on an island. What’s going to happen with the phrase?
I gotta think of something. Voted off the tribal land seems a little wordy.

What about local animals? Is there enough wildlife to make things look ”authentic”?
There are a lot of animals out there. But if there are no animals, hell yeah, we’ll bring ’em in. We’ve got one jet that is only for animals. We’re hoping not to use it, but we’re in touch with the San Diego Zoo and if we need to, we’ll bring them in. Truthfully, we don’t even care if they’re indigenous or not. Who’s going to know a kangaroo from a monkey?

This sounds suspiciously like disinformation.
The thing about the first ”Survivor,” with all the misinformation, is if you believe anything anyone from ”Survivor” tells you without at least a grain of salt, you’re crazy. I can’t promise you I’m telling you the truth.

Everybody and their brother is writing a ”Survivor” book. When can we expect to see yours?
I don’t really have a book to write.

Do you ever visit ”Survivor” fan websites?
I go to Which was like an antiwebsite that was great for the show. I thought they just did a killer job.

So was it you that put forth the ”Gervase is the winner” theory?
I take credit for the Gervase theory. I take credit for everything good about ”Survivor.” Mark Burnett, he’s a neat guy — but it’s my show.

Survivor: The Australian Outback

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