Ultimate survivor: Jeff Probst has never been voted off the Emmy island [Video]
Jeff Probst has never lost an Emmy race. He's gone three for three in the relatively new category for best host of a reality show. Meantime, "Survivor" has never won the category for best reality competition show, which has existed for eight years, and it hasn't been nominated since 2006. What's going on?
Frankly, Probst has an edge over rivals in the host category, which usually includes Tom Bergeron ("Dancing with the Stars"), Phil Keoghan ("The Amazing Race"), Heidi Klum ("Project Runway") and Ryan Seacrest ("American Idol"). He gets a lot of face time.
Basically, Bergeron, Keoghan, Klum and Seacrest serve as ringmasters on their shows, introducing people, information and segments as their TV programs unfold. They don't usually participate in the core action. On "Survivor," however, Probst is not only smack-dab in the midst of things, he's in charge of mixing them up.
"The format allows the host to be involved in the show and mediate some pretty interesting moments," he says in our webcam chat. "Just a couple of weeks ago we had a white guy and a black guy get into it about racism and it went deep. ... So if I was on a different TV show ... who knows?"
Meantime, "Survivor" is no longer getting nominated for best reality-competition show because, well, the competition is so fierce. "There are a lot of new, quality reality TV shows these days and we're no longer the new kid on the block," Probst says.
Last year, the Emmys tested Probst's patience by booting his category off the prime-time Emmycast, but he responded with admirable graciousness and team spirit. "Survivor" was shooting in Nicaragua at the time. In order to make it to the Creative Arts ceremony, he had to hop on a plane early that morning, race from LAX to the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, then jump back on a plane immediately afterward to return to Nicaragua in time for the next TV shoot.
Although the ordeal was frantic and even humbling, Probst says: "It was a good experience for me. I really value these Emmys, so being recognized feels good whether you do it at the prime-times or at the Creative Arts or whether you just drop it at my front door."
-- Tom O'Neil
Photo: Jeff Probst at the 2009 Emmys. Credit: WireImage