As the affable host of CBS' Survivor since its 2000 premiere, Jeff Probst has encountered just about every personality type — bold, sneaky and underhanded come to mind. Now, the 50-year-old newlywed will be ushering in a new wave of guests without having to extinguish their torches and dash their dreams. Preparing for the September 10 launch of his syndicated daily chatfest, The Jeff Probst Show, the four-time Emmy winner gave us a first look at the newly completed 134-seat set and allowed us to ask the questions.
TV Guide Magazine: With all the trees and wood carvings, this set looks very you, Jeff.
Probst: What we wanted to do is sell the idea of adventure. The adventure I'm associated with is Survivor, but on this show, I'm talking about the spirit of adventure. We wanted to create an inviting environment in tune with the Studio City home Lisa [Ann Russell, whom he wed in December] and I live in. The idea is that whoever lives here travels the world and enjoys a big life.
TV Guide Magazine: So this looks like your real home?
Probst: Very similar, with an indoor/outdoor feel. We bought [Western star] Gene Autry's old house. The key for me is you don't need shoes.
TV Guide Magazine: Will your wife play a part in the talk show?
Probst: Yes, she was on our [test] show just today discussing long-distance relationships. We only agreed to do a talk show if we both could work on it, because being away for Survivor is hard enough. She is also our talent coordinator, who takes care of every guest. So far, it's worked out very well.
TV Guide Magazine: What aspects of your new family dynamic will find their way onto the show?
Probst: Lisa brought two kids [Michael, 8, and Ava, 6] into the marriage, and [talking about] that will be a big part of the show. They were raised in a way that made them open to another father, even though they have a fantastic dad of their own [Franklin & Bash's Mark-Paul Gosselaar]. We're part of a blended family where we have them one week and their dad and his wife have them the other.
TV Guide Magazine: How close were you to becoming Regis' replacement on Live! With Kelly?
Probst: I don't know. I got one phone call talking to me about it, but I said yes to this. I loved working with Kelly and would have been flattered, but my feeling [at the time] was that Regis was not going to retire anytime soon. I thought he would just go on and on until he couldn't go anymore.
TV Guide Magazine: How are you going to juggle this show and your already grueling Survivor schedule?
Probst: We changed the Survivor schedule slightly so I could come back three months earlier to start shooting the talk show. But once the first season is over, we'll go back to our old schedule of shooting two back-to-back Survivors in May, June and July, come back and shoot the talk show through April, then shoot more Survivor May, June, July. Lisa and I have committed to making Survivor a true family adventure where the kids come to location. It's a new adventure for us all.