'Survivor' renewed: Jeff Probst talks about the future
The tribe has spoken. Only in this case that tribe is CBS and what it is saying is that it is renewing the long time reality hit Survivor for two more editions — seasons 29 and 30 — to air in the fall of 2014 and spring of 2015. (Season 27 of Blood vs. Water has its finale this Sunday night, while season 28 was shot last summer in the Philippines and will air in spring 2014.)
In typical understated fashion, executive producer Mark Burnett chimed in on the announcement with a statement through CBS that read, “I am thrilled that our fans get to continue their love affair with SURVIVOR on CBS through 2015. This current season has become one of the most-loved seasons ever and I promise our fans to make season 29 and 30 even better… I LOVE SURVIVOR!!!”
In addition to the show being renewed for two more cycles, Jeff Probst also reupped his deal to return for them as both host and executive-producer. EW had a chance to chat with Probst about the renewal, and here’s what he told us.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Okay, Jeff, what would your reaction have been over 13 years ago if I said that Survivor would soon be getting ready to film season number 30?
JEFF PROBST: I couldn’t have comprehended it. I really couldn’t have. But at this point I feel like if our audience continues to watch and we continue to win our time slot week to week, then I think we could have another renewal after this. I now fully appreciate that there are two big things that have to do with Survivor’s success. First, it’s a really good format. The show itself is interesting. And we’ve also been lucky that the people who watch continue to watch. It’s why we don’t do Survivor to attract new viewers. You will never catch me in a conversation going “Oh, please just check out our show! I promise you’ll like it!” I just say to our team, keep making the show our audience wants.
EW: You’re on a hot streak now. You’ve had three strong seasons in a row, which is remarkable when you consider that we’re talking about seasons 25 to 27 of something that was supposed to be a fad.
PROBST: It feels very satisfying and validating. It’s not as easy to find new twists. You’ve used up a lot of ideas. Blood vs. Water was a great infusion of energy and we will probably revisit that again because it has been so well received. And it reminded us as well that our show is about emotions as much as it is about hidden immunity idols. So it really got me thinking and challenging our creative team that in addition to twists, let’s always remember to add a twist that involves emotion because that will get you much more story.
EW: 30 certainly is a nice round number. And it will be airing in 2015, which is the 15 year anniversary of the show. Can we anticipate there might be something special for that one?
PROBST: You have to be able to cast a show to do it. That is our bread and butter. For instance, we will not do Blood vs. Water again if we do not have what we believe is a great cast. We will do something else. So our first focus is on season 29. And based on what we decide for 29, then we will figure out 30. There are a lot of ideas swirling around what we should do for our 30th season and the one note I keep reminding everybody is what we have to do is a good season of Survivor. It really doesn’t matter if it’s a version of Heroes vs. Villains, an All-Stars, or all new people, or Blood vs. Water, or all winners or all runners-up, or third person on a Friday that lost the immunity. It doesn’t matter how you divide the people if they are not great people. So what you need to do is decide who you are bringing back and then decide what the twist is. That’s always how you have to look at it. It would be great to do a season of all winners — if that season of all winners features great characters. But if not, if you can’t get that group together, then just getting the marquee of all-winners? That gets you five minutes into episode 1. What are you going to do for the rest of the season?