Emmy-winning “Survivor” host Jeff Probst was once asked to reflect on some of the past seasons and he named Richard Hatch as the greatest thing that ever could have happened to the show. Find out why he thought so, and what other seasons Probst looked back on for the Television Academy Foundation.
They Thought Richard Hatch Winning Would Be Terrible
When the team was filming the first season of “Survivor,” Probst told the TV Academy Foundation that they were sure Rudy Boesch was going to win and they were devastated when he was eliminated during the final immunity challenge.
“We had Rudy Boesch, who was this 72-year-old Navy SEAL that everybody loved, and in the last challenge, it was three people and all he had to do was hold on to this idol and he’d win and he’s a Navy SEAL and we all thought, ‘Oh my god, he’s gonna win!’ and he went to scratch his head and he took his hand off the idol and all of us collapsed inside thinking, ‘Oh my god, now it’s gonna be Richard or Kelly who’s gonna win, who are they?!”
But then the season aired and Probst found out they were dead wrong.
“Little did we know, Richard Hatch would be the greatest thing that ever happened to ‘Survivor’ by winning the first season,” said Probst.
It was quite a change from Probst’s opinion years later when they were casting “Winners at War.” At the time, he told US Weekly that Hatch was not appropriate to be included.
“Given his history on our show, it did not seem appropriate. We were in a different time and different culture back then and we would never let him run a challenge naked now. Looking back on it, it just didn’t seem to fit. It’s not a slam against Richard Hatch. He’s just being Richard Hatch,” said Probst.
In response to that, Hatch said in a video on his YouTube channel, “I think Jeff Probst clearly has his favorites and I’m not one of them any longer because he doesn’t like that I’m gonna tell you just like it is, just what I’m thinking, just how it happened. I think they’d rather be more in control of what people are thinking and saying if they can be.”
Probst Also Thought ‘All-Stars’ Would Kill the Show
In a hilarious bit of hindsight, Probst recalled how he thought then-head of CBS Les Moonves was insane to do an all-stars season.
“I was walking with Mark Burnett when … he got a call from Les Moonves saying, ‘Next season I want you to do an all-star season.’ And I remember thinking, ‘What is this guy Moonves doing? An all-star season?! He’s gonna kill our show!’”
But that was season eight and look how far they’ve come.
“Clearly, Leslie Moonves knows a thing or two about television. And he was right, it was fantastic and we bring back people all the time now.”
Probst added, “Any seasons where we bring people back are usually pretty good.”
He then said that he has actually liked almost all of the seasons they’ve done — but not all of them.
“I’ve liked 90 percent of our seasons. I’m super proud of our storytelling. It’s really about storytelling. [Once we’re] down to eight or nine people, we can’t control what they do. So we either have a good group of eight or nine or we don’t. And if we don’t, we’re dead,” said Probst.
“Fortunately, our audience will hang in there, but then they will tweet me and say, ‘That blew. Those last eight people blew.’”
“Survivor” is back in production now. If the pattern holds, it should be premiering its 41st season the third or fourth week of September 2021.
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