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TV Column
Posted at 04:22 PM ET, 07/30/2012

Jeff Probst on Jeff Probst


Jeff Probst (PHIL McCARTEN - REUTERS)
Jeff Probst has an enthusiasm for talking about himself that would make Oprah blush.

In his defense, he had come to Summer TV Press Tour 2012 to talk to TV critics about his new syndicated show, which is, after all, called “The Jeff Probst Show.”

Anyway, it went like this:

— On the set design:

Our set is was designed to be an extension of my living room...I don’t quite have that living room, but it’s the idea where you feel comfortable enough to kick off your shoes.

— On what aspects of doing an interview show he thinks he needs to work on:

I think my weakness as an interviewer will be a strength in daytime, which is, I share a lot -- sometimes too much. But in daytime, when you are asking people to share their life, on the kind of level that I’m going to go to, you have to be willing to share yours. And, conveniently, my wife Lisa works on the show, but in addition, she’ll be on the show.

— On whether he failed to snag an Emmy nomination for best reality TV host – a category he has won every year since it was created -- because he had not submitted his name this year, to give others a chance:

No.

— On whether he was surprised when he wasn’t nominated:

You know, honestly, I am so grateful for the Emmy love I’ve had. Okay — now, this is what’s fascinating. I wish you were on our talk show because, the minute I started that answer, you waved me off like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,” as if to imply my answer is not worthy or insincere. Any journalist here who has ever interviewed me knows I speak as candidly as possible. I say things I should never say. Publicists hate it when I open my mouth. So, to answer your question, I am so grateful for the love I’ve received from the Emmys. I didn’t feel snubbed at all.

— On why audience members should get their hair and makeup done for them in the show’s “party,” a.k.a. green room:

If you are on our show, there’s a very good chance you will appear on the show because our stage is built in a way that I can get to anybody I want anytime I want. I’ve always got a stick mic. And if I sense there’s somebody in the audience who is nodding -- Boom! “Hang on -- what are you nodding about? Why are you nodding?” In that sense, it’s like tribal council. You are looking at body language, and you are including them in the show.

— On his life:

In the last few years, I’ve said yes so often I can barely keep up. I said yes to love and married an amazing woman. I said yes to being a parent to two incredible kids. The kids in return then said yes to having a new dad in their life. And then I said yes to a talk show. And then I say, “What did I just do?” But, so that’s the overall idea of the show, is saying yes to the adventures in your life.”

— On his exec producer Amy Coleman:

Met Amy over phone, basically Skype. I was in Samoa, shooting “Survivor.” We interviewed a lot of people. I fell in love with Amy, sight unseen. I had no idea what she looked like. I didn’t know if she was tall, short, blonde, brunette -- nothing. I just knew this voice was saying the things I felt. And from that moment, I said to CBS, “I don’t want to make your negotiation tough, but I’m going to be honest. There is no second choice. We have to get Amy Coleman to do to do the show.” And I said, “I’ll stay out of it, but I’m telling you, I don’t have a Plan B.”

-- On getting NBC-owned TV stations to buy his show:

There was a day where I flew to New York and had a drink with the guy at NBC…and it was 45 minutes, and I left. And I thought, “I think that was probably the drink of this experience. How did it go?” And a few days later, I heard NBC picked us up…And I’ve sat with [NBC Broadcasting chairman] Ted Harbert many times and said, “I’m going to give you everything I have. It will be me. You know what I’m about, and I’m going to give it to you as much as I can.”

— On the rigors of doing both “Survivor” and his new talk show:

[Wife] Lisa and I decided… she would have to work on the show, absolutely, because we want to take this journey together. I don’t want to come home from another job and say, “Oh, it was a busy day at work, baby.” We want to be able to say, “How was it for you? What did you think of the show? Here’s how it was for me,” and have that shared experience. And then…we have to then commit to making “Survivor” family adventures…we are building memories. And I love how this interview is going, because that is saying yes to life.

— On the structure of the new talk show:

Amy is structuring it in a way with the team of producers, and we are building it with our director, in a way that says everything goes. If I don’t know what camera I’m looking at, I’m going to say, “Brian, where do you want me? Here? Okay. This is what I’m talking about.” And we are back into the show. If we have an audio issue, it will be, “Hang on. Say that again. I didn’t hear it.”

— On auditioning to be the host of “Survivor”:

I got a call on Friday, and they said, “You’re meeting at CBS on Monday. It’s you and one other guy.”…And I walked into the signup sheet at CBS … and I wrote my name down, and the name above mine was Phil Keoghan. And I thought, “Oh, my gosh, I am totally zoned into this show. I get it!” And I walked in, and I saw Phil. We kind of shook hands and said, “Good luck,” and then Phil made the mistake of going in first. And I sat there in the chair, and I thought, “Never let me in that room after you leave, because I will close the deal.”

By  |  04:22 PM ET, 07/30/2012

 
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