'Survivor' host Jeff Probst says Mike White helped get rid of Redemption Island | EW.com

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'Survivor' host Jeff Probst says Mike White helped get rid of Redemption Island

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Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

Every week, host Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of ‘Survivor: San Juan del Sur — Blood vs. Water.’

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You bastard! You got me! I’ve been talking all season about how Josh is getting a “winner’s edit,” and now the dude is out of the game! But what amazes me the most is how folks still can neglect people on the fringes of their alliance. You and I have spoken countless times over the years about the importance of making the people at the bottom of the totem pole feel important, and it looks like it came back and bit someone else in the butt as the men in Jaclyn’s alliance ignored her while Jon was gone. Why does this kind of stuff still happen?
JEFF PROBST: The only answer I can put forth is it’s further evidence that all of us humans have massive blind spots. For whatever reason, the same mistakes happen season after season on Survivor. It’s not for lack of bright players, it’s just something about human nature, how we process information and what happens to our awareness when we are deprived of the basics such as food, shelter, and comfort. 

We had a bit of a role reversal last season where you said in our Q&A after the Cagayan memory challenge how you weren’t a fan of those and probably wanted to get rid of them, but then I wrote you a long email telling you exactly why you should keep it, because it is one of the true play-along-at-home challenges you guys do. So I’m happy you guys decided to keep it in the mix, but how about you?
Yes, you did influence that decision to keep them in the game, along with my kids who said the same thing. I think your point was valid — they’re very fun to play along with at home — which isn’t always the case on a Survivor challenge. My concern was really just from a big picture perspective that they do run the risk of being boring. They typically require a bit of challenge luck or some great reality moment or funny comments from the players to make these really work. Having now voiced all my fears, I will admit that historically they have worked out pretty well so my concern was probably a case of borrowing trouble where there wasn’t any. Thank God you spoke up!

You guys made a last minute switch before filming, getting rid of Redemption Island and instead bringing back the Exile Island twist. I told you I was a fan of that move because it makes vote-outs like this big Josh one that much more shocking and impactful. Now that you’ve seen it play out past the merge, what are your thoughts on Redemption vs. Exile in a Blood vs. Water season?
I have a few thoughts. I am glad we did not do Redemption Island this season because I do think it has made for a more clean and in some ways brutal season because of the impact of loved ones being voted out. With Exile, I loved what we got early with the cross pollination of relationships and I love where it’s going to head now that we’re in the individual part of the game. It will definitely have an impact on how the season plays out.

So just generally speaking, yes, I am glad that we decided to change it up – and in a weird way I owe thanks to Mike White. Mike is a big Survivor fan, a former contestant on Amazing Race and a tremendous writer/director/actor/storyteller (School of Rock, Nacho Libre, Enlightened).  He was over at our house for dinner just a couple of weeks before we started shooting. I confided in him about the basic creative for the Blood vs. Water season and when I mentioned Redemption Island coming back he had a very lackluster response – “Oh, you’re doing Redemption again?” The words hit me like a stray, leftover Medallion of Power right between the eyes. We had debated Redemption Island during our Survivor creative meetings and for some reason hearing him say it at that moment tipped the scale. Redemption Island duels became Hero Arena challenges and Redemption Island became Exile Island. It was a pretty simple switch and didn’t impact anything we had built or designed.

Looks like Reed will not go gently into that good night. Tease us up for next week, sir.
Next week features a brand new challenge - something we’ve never done before that I think people will get a kick out of it. There’s a clue in that answer… and Reed is definitely gonna do whatever it takes to stay in this game.

Check out an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode as well as our pre-game interview with Josh and Reed in the video player below. Also, make sure to read Dalton’s ‘Survivor’ recap. And for more ‘Survivor’ scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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