Seeing as how Survivor: One World will be premiering on Feb. 15, and seasons 25 and 26 of the reality franchise have already been renewed by CBS, you would think Jeff Probst would take some time off to smell the roses. Think again! Not only does the Emmy-winning host have a daytime talk show launching in September, but it was also recently announced that he will be directing his second feature film, titled Kiss Me. Now, Probst is offering new details about both projects.
Probst’s first directorial project (for which he also wrote the script) was 2001’s Finder’s Fee, starring Ryan Reynolds and James Earl Jones. So why the decade-long delay for his follow-up? Blame a bout of writer’s block. “I spent a lot of time writing scripts myself, none of which were worth even sending to my mom,” he tells EW.com. “But I finally found this piece of material I fell in love with.” And that material was a screenplay by Liz Sarnoff (best known as a producer on TV shows like Deadwood, Lost, and Fox’s new Alcatraz, from which she stepped down as showrunner after working on the pilot).
The film stars Sarah Bolger (The Tudors) as a teen with scoliosis who is forced to wear a back brace. Probst explains: “She’s just going through a rough time, as teenagers do, where she’s kind of an alien from her own family. She’s in that place where Mom and Dad don’t know anything, and she’s feeling like an outcast. She babysits for this family and she ends up seeking affection from a couple of different people, one of whom is the dad, Chance, played by John Corbett. And another is a teenage girl her own age. So she has two relationships that are complicated, in addition to the one with her mom. It’s a little more raw than an after-school special may be.”
The film will be shot for three weeks in February in Los Angeles, and Probst is especially excited to get to work with his lead actress. “She’s like Ryan Reynolds was,” he says of Bolger. “We were able to score Ryan before he became a gigantic star, and I feel the same way about Sarah. She’s fantastic.”
As for Probst’s other big new project of 2012, he gave us some more insight into what to expect when his talk show hits the air in September. “The biggest thing that I’ve discovered is that I am not a journalist, and I’m not a doctor, and I’m not an expert, or a chef, or any of those things. I really am at my core a guy from Kansas that likes to talk to people, so that’s the baseline and foundation of the show. The umbrella is: The adventure you’re ready for is the one you get. I really look at life that way. And it’s not Tony Robbins, rah, rah, rah. It’s still got some Tribal Council to it and holding people accountable, with the end goal to make your life better.”
And while some other talk-show hosts have gone to great lengths to avoid any comparisons to the big O, Probst is not bothering to play so coy. “Everybody says ‘Oh, I’m not trying to fill the void left by Oprah.’ Well, that’s a bunch of baloney. Of course you are! Because Oprah captured something incredible. She captured this energy and essence that she really improved people’s lives. And that’s why they watched. Well, of course you’re trying to capture that. There’s never going to be another Oprah, but to say you’re not trying to fill that void? Everybody is! Because it’s missing.”
Whether Probst is the one to fill it will be answered in September. But if that doesn’t pan out, he still has Survivor and his rekindled directorial career to keep him busy.
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