Survivor's Jeff Probst on Mark the Chicken and possibility of a final two
Each week, host Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: Kaôh Rōng.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, I have been negligent in not getting your thoughts on Mark the Chicken. How exactly are the rules of Survivor worded? Is Mark eligible to be named the Sole Survivor if he manages to not get eaten over the next eight days?
JEFF PROBST: Brilliant question! Yes, I’m surprised “Mark the Chicken” is not a bigger story. I mean, think about it — one man (Tai) has convinced a group of starving people to not eat a chicken because it’s become his friend. That’s pretty powerful. And it’s Mark Burnett. The KING of … well, everything. So yes, we amended the rules to state “If Mark the Chicken survives all 39 days, he is thereby eligible to take a spot at the final Tribal Council and plead his case.” I know this will upset some people who think we are being a bit loose with the rules but “producers’ discretion” means just that. I do think it will be easier for MTC if Tai is also in the final Tribal, because Tai can translate Chicken to English. Otherwise, I do think MTC will have an uphill battle convincing the jury that he is worthy of the million dollars and the title of Sole Survivor. But hey, that’s why they play the game. You never know.
I know you all like to do these rewards where players get to interact with the local community, whether it is visiting a local school, a village, or in this case, a rescue shelter for animals. Tell me about the importance of this one and why you like sprinkling these types of experiences onto the show?
Survivor is a tapestry of experiences. We want it to be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Interacting with the local community is often a part of the journey. In this case, it was just so fun to be able to visit a rescue shelter for animals that we knew it had to be in the show. It’s always a balance of reality, challenges, Tribal Council, rewards, local community, and private moments. We don’t force them into the show; we only use them when they are available and make sense.
Two great challenges this week, and I want to ask you about the immunity competition, because while this is certainly not the first time we’ve seen someone come back from way behind to win, it was kind of stunning in how far behind Cydney was. When you were calling the challenge, did you think she had any shot whatsoever?
It is kind of amazing when I look back on all the times I have thought someone was absolutely out of a challenge with no chance of winning, and they’ve come back to pull it out. Yes, early on Cydney’s approach just seemed so slow that even though she wasn’t dropping, she was just never going to get there in time. But there was a moment about 70 percent of the way into the challenge where you could feel the momentum shift from Cydney trying to get in it — to everybody trying to catch Cydney.
That’s a great moment, because we often design our challenges so that there can be a Hail Mary moment where someone can go for broke and try to catch the leader. That’s what happened here as people started to move faster and get more careless in the hopes of catching her. It turned into an incredibly dramatic finish and what a surprising victory! Slow and steady won the race in this case. That is one of my favorite challenges. It’s one of those “instant classic” challenges that we will be using again for sure!
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BONUS QUESTION! We have five players left and two episodes. I’m doing a little Survivor math on the fly here, and does that mean we are possibly looking at a final two this season?
Could it be that we finally listened to you and my friend Mike White (School of Rock, Enlightened) and went back to a final two? I mean, with all the evacuations we’ve had, it would make sense. And all your fans know you are an ardent supporter of the final two. Plus, you know that we here on the show think you are the cat’s meow and we only want to please you. So… is it possible that we are, at least for this season, going back to a final two? Yes, it is… possible.
Okay, sir, tease us up for next week’s penultimate episode.
Next time on Survivor: Every dog has their day.
Check out an exclusive deleted scene from the episode above. Also make sure to read Dalton’s full episode recap. For more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss, and check back soon for our exit interview with Jason.
Strangers starve themselves on an island for our amusement in the hopes of winning a million dollars, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "DIG DEEP!"