A celebrity version of Survivor has been discussed off and on almost since the reality hit first aired back in the summer of 2000, but we may be closer to seeing it than ever before. When asked about it during a conference call with reporters last week, executive producer Mark Burnett replied, “Would I think about an all-celebrity version? For charity, if CBS wanted to, a shortened version, I would think about it.”
But last night, Survivor host Jeff Probst took it to a whole other level as a guest on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. After being told by Fallon that he needed to re-up his contract, Probst replied: “I’ll re-up if you will agree to be part of a crew to do a seven-day Celebrity Survivor.” When Fallon squirmed, Probst continued: “Seven days and for one hour a day you can be in communication with your fans. You can tweet, you can talk about whatever and then it’s back to Survivor.” And Probst wasn’t done. After the show, he tweeted from @JeffProbst: “If you think Fallon should do Survivor, tweet him and encourage him. If we can get a handful of great celebs I think we could pull it off!”
This is a far cry from Probst’s previous stance on celebrity editions. Back in the summer of 2009, I had heard whispers that they were seriously considering a celebrity version of the show (especially after Burnett’s success reinvigorating The Apprentice franchise with Celebrity Apprentice) before finally settling on the theme of Heroes vs Villains. When I asked Probst about it while on location for that season, he replied, “We never talked about doing a Celebrity Survivor. I can’t imagine ever doing a Celebrity Survivor. It doesn’t even seem right. We’re not I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! This is not a bulls— show. It’s a real show.”
This would not mark the first time the host has changed his mind. Immediately after dealing with the egos and attitudes of Survivor: All-Stars, Probst was dead set against doing another edition filled with returning players — a stance he ultimately softened (which led to Fans vs Favorites and Heroes vs. Villains). As a big fan of the absurdity of Celebrity Apprentice, I have no problem with an edition filled with pampered prima donnas roughing it, but doing it for just seven days and allowing celebrities to actually communicate with the outside world while playing seems like a poor approximation of the true Survivor experience.
What do you think? Is Celebrity Survivor something you want to see, even if the famous faces were only roughing it for a week…with their laptops? Hit the message boards and let us know. For more Survivor scoop, follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss. And to see Probst’s take on the new contestants of Redemption Island, premiering tonight, click on the video player below.