'Survivor': Jeff Probst calls Typhoon Haiyan devastation 'heartbreaking'
Each week, host Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the most recent episode of Survivor: Blood vs. Water.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Before we get into the show, I know you all spent a lot of times in the Philippines, shooting four seasons there over the past two years. Tell me your thoughts upon hearing about the tragedy with Typhoon Haiyan.
JEFF PROBST: Over the last two years I’ve spent nearly eight months in the Philippines. Some of the nicest, hardest working and most humble people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Seeing this devastation is truly heartbreaking. You feel simultaneously helpless to contribute in any significant way and grateful to be home safe and sound with your own family. CBS is being very active in helping raise awareness and support. Survivor is also being very active in doing our own internal fund raising and I would imagine we will somehow involve the live reunion show as well.
EW: It’s hard to overstate how bad Gervase was at that food eating challenge back in season 1 — being selected as the weak link by the other tribe and then STILL losing to Stacey Stillman. Watching him make it to the finals of a disgusting food eating challenge here — where does that rank on your list of shocking Survivor moments? And admit it — you brought the grubs back just for him, didn’t you?
PROBST: I loved watching Gervase rise to the occasion and almost pull out one of the greatest redemption stories of all time. I think he really showed himself that he’s capable of more than he thinks. As for the grubs, we almost always use them in the food eating challenge because they go back to season one and are so iconic. We always had them slated as the last item, we just got very lucky that Gervase lasted long enough to get a second shot! I have to say that despite all the hoopla around Gervase, an equally big story was Monica winning the challenge. It was clearly very important to her — not only for the game, but in sending a message to her kids that mom can kick butt just like dad!
EW: We saw Aras and Vytas exit the tribe in very different ways: Aras does it with a smile and Vytas does it with a sneer. These two are very similar in many ways, but there is an edge there that separates them, and we saw that with their conversation later at Redemption Island. Give me your take on the brothers.
PROBST: I think they are probably representative of a lot of older/younger brother relationships. Having two brothers myself, I found their relationship very compelling. There is an element to Aras that some people find disingenuous. His golden boy approach is clearly more accessible than Vytas (at times) but he’s always so polite and encouraging and some people just don’t believe you can be that way all the time. You contrast him with Vytas, who for the most part is much rougher but who tries to be nice (at times) and the same people think Vytas is also being disingenuous when he’s being nice! Go figure. I truly hope they are able to heal their relationship and become closer as a result of this experience. It’s clear that’s what Aras wants — the question is whether or not Vytas is ready for it.
EW: And now Tina gets voted out! I know as a producer you have to HATE losing one of these three next week. Does the prospect of seeing them all battle it out to stay alive at least compensate for having to say goodbye to one of them just after the merge?
PROBST: I don’t really look at it that way. I like Redemption this season because I think it offers a lot of strategic opportunities and a place for players to air dirty laundry and maybe even make up things that aren’t true. I also like second chances. But it doesn’t matter to me who is there one is going home, two stay and the game continues. I know you question this, as you question a lot of things, but honestly, we are producing the show and going with the flow and just trusting in the casting and the format to do their job. It’s worked for 27 seasons! (Well, most of them anyway!)
EW: BONUS QUESTION! Okay, Mr. Big Shot Guest Star, what’s this I hear about you appearing on Two & Half Men tonight? And will you or won’t you be wearing pants?
PROBST: Ah I had so much fun. I got a call on Monday asking if I could shoot on Thursday. I said yes before they could also tell me that I’d be naked. Or nearly naked — tiny little underwear is all I was given. When CBS ran a promo during CBS football, they actually painted on hilarious white underwear. I guess because it was daytime and they thought I might be offensive. I’ve been assured there isn’t the same censorship at 9:30pm on Thursdays when Two & A Half Men airs! So to answer to your question — no shirt, no pants, no baseball cap.
EW: Tease us up for next week!
PROBST: Mother daughter relationships are tested in more than one way.