SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

Welcome, everyone, to the Boston Rob and Sandra show! And make no mistake, it is their show. At least that will be the case when Survivor contestants visit former winners Rob Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine at Island of the Idols for season 39.

According to host Jeff Probst, the duo took the ball and ran with it when it came to handling the new contestants when they arrived for advice on their island. “Rob and Sandra were fantastic partners,” says Probst. “Really, I couldn’t have been happier, more proud. They came in and they took over this portion of the show. I wasn’t even there! I wasn’t even around. We would walk them through what we were going to do, hand it off, and Rob and Sandra would walk the beach at night, practice, rehearse, just think — and then let it go and say, ‘Well, here we go.’ It was really cool.”

And lest anyone think the two returning mentors had it easy, Probst assures us Rob and Sandra were suffering out in the elements just like the new players. “They’re living on their own island,” says Probst. “Rob built shelter, they’re cooking fish. I mean, it’s a full-on Survivor experience.

Not only that, but the host also reveals that the show offered to build a shelter for the returning winners — and was turned down. “To give credit to Rob and Sandra, when we called them, we said, ‘If you want, we’ll build you a shelter and you can live in it,” says Probst. “And they both said, ‘Oh, no, no, no. If we’re gonna talk the talk, then we have to walk the walk. The players have to see us living the way they’re living.’”

Probst says that distinction ended up being key in making sure the players were buying what the advisors were selling: “It really made an impact when the players would say, ‘Wait a minute, you’re out here?’ And they’d go, ‘Yeah, I just caught three fish this morning. How you doing?’”

We’ll see how the players (and celebrity mentors) are doing when Survivor: Island of the Idols premieres Sept. 25 on CBS. In the meantime, watch Probst discuss Sandra and Boston Rob in the video above, and for more Survivor scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

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!"

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