Mark Burnett on Producing 'Survivor': "We Always Treat It Like ... a Military Operation"

"Things do slip through the cracks. The question is: Are you all a bunch of grown-ups who can deal with legality or morality and merge the two and make a very quick decision?"

"One thing that I've done," Mark Burnett told The Hollywood Reporter during its Reality Emmy Roundtable, "is very, very big-scale foreign productions." The producer said he is able to manage large-scale productions by "being a good leader. We always treat it like an army, like a military operation. And when you've got hundreds of people in a remote place, all sorts of things can happen." To name a few of said things, the problems that have occurred during the production of Survivor include "governmental problems" and, of course, "pirates — real pirates."

"We've seen the Tom Hanks movie," added Julie Chen, referring to the 2013 Paul Greengrass-helmed biopic, Captain Phillips, which tells the true story of a U.S. container ship being seized by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

"Producing these big shows in remote locations is really serious," continued Burnett. "[There are] lives at stake." He stressed that he, along with his crew, take meticulous precautions to make sure that everything is taken care of before going into foreign production. However, "things do slip through the cracks. The question is: Are you all a bunch of grown-ups who can deal with legality or morality and merge the two and make a very quick decision?"

Burnett joined Nigel Lythgoe (So You Think You Can Dance), Chen (Big Brother), Craig Piligian (The Ultimate Fighter), Cat Deeley (So You Think You Can Dance) and Bertram van Munster (The Amazing Race) for the roundtable, where the producers and hosts shared what it takes to create content that has lasted for over a decade in a genre that seemed like a fad.

The full Reality Roundtable can be seen on Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter when it premieres Sunday, Sept. 13, at 11 a.m. ET/PT on SundanceTV and HollywoodReporter.com.

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