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Survivor's globe-hopping days could be over, especially if host/executive producer Jeff Probst has his way. The reality giant — which amazingly still wins its night in total viewers — spent its first 32 seasons in different locations, but has filmed its last four installments in the Mamanuca Islands in Fiji. (That includes season 35 — Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers, which premieres Sept. 27, and season 36, which will air in early 2018.)
And it now looks like that stay could be for even longer, because when we spoke to host Jeff Probst in Fiji during filming, the host stated bluntly that he doesn't want the show to leave — ever. "I hope we stay here forever," says Probst of the Fiji location.
For its first 18 seasons — with the exception of seasons 7 and 8 (Pearl Islands and All-Stars) in Panama — Survivor moved to a different setting every go-round, with a break of a few months each time between filming. But — in a major cost-cutting move — starting with seasons 19 and 20 (Samoa and Heroes vs. Villains) the show moved to a format where it shot two seasons back-to-back in the same place with just a few weeks in between. While the show has filmed four seasons in Samoa and four in Nicaragua since then, this run in Fiji from seasons 33 through 36 is the first time Survivor has gone four straight seasons in the same spot.
In explaining why staying permanently in Fiji would now make sense, Probst points to global changes that have taken place since the show first went on the air in 2000. "The real truth of the world is, when we started Survivor 18 years ago, there were lots of places we could go," says the host. "It's been two decades. It's a different world. There are not as many places we can go for lots of reasons — the economy, population, political unrest, weather patterns."
But it's not just about that, says Probst. If you're making a checklist for producing a show, the location of Fiji marks every box. "Fiji offers us everything that we want," says Probst. "Incredibly beautiful water that you can see down 30 feet, beaches that are amazing, a government that is working with us, local labor that loves to say ‘Bula!' every day because they're just happy you're here. And our crew has never been as happy. We actually have decent accommodations to do this show out in the jungle. It's a win-win-win."
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From a viewer's standpoint, Fiji also offers pretty much everything — incredible beaches, crystal clear water, vibrant fish and wildlife, epic vistas, and the occasional dangerous storm that provides some of the danger that also makes Survivor so compelling. Along with Palau, it is probably the premiere Survivor locale.
The ultimate question becomes: Does that make it worth giving up the variety of locations, cultures, and landscapes that come with moving the show around every year? Probst thinks so, and has made his case that the show should set up shop in the Mamanuca Islands on a permanent basis. "When you find yourself in a leadership position, what you do realize is, you have to make decisions," says the host and EP. "It would be great to say, no we're going to go all over the world. No, there is nowhere to go. This is our home. I hope we end our show here."