TCA 2012: Jeff Probst on Talk Show Rivals, a 'Party Room' and His Own Loose Lips

Jeff Probst at TCA - P 2012

Jeff Prosbt is hoping daytime viewers are ready to “say yes."

To hear the Survivor host-turned-talk show personality tell it, saying "yes" -- to relationships, to friendships, to first kisses -- is what his daytime series will be all about. The explanation seemed to throw reporters gathered for the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour, who kept pressing him for specifics on his latest effort, The Jeff Probst Show, bowing Sept. 10.

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What he would reveal: details of the newly assembled 134-seat set, which houses a “party room” designed to differentiate his entry in a crowded lanscape that will soon include Ricki Lake, Katie Couric and Steve Harvey. Massage chairs, a snack bar and a hair and makeup booth will all be incorporated in a bid to make the “audience to feel welcome.” Probst said it was Jimmy Kimmel’s famous green room -- as much party area as it is waiting room -- that inspired the addition.

In addition, Probst's new wife, Lisa Ann Russell, will not only work on the show, but also be featured on-air -- the result of Probst's decision to make his private life anything but. "Our life is going to be part of the show," he allowed, adding that Russell will be called upon to comment on their relationship as well as their parenting strategy. In fact, he said that his recent marriage and blended family are among the reasons he finally said yes to hosting a talk show. (Probst acknowledged that he had turned down previous offers because he didn't think he had anything to say at the time.)

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"My weakness as an interviewer I think will be a strength in daytime: I share ... sometimes too much," he continued, noting later that he is always -- and famously -- candid: "Publicists hate it when I open my mouth." (He proved as much later in the panel when he recalled how he got the Survivor gig over Phil Keoghan, who had interviewed with CBS minutes before him. "Phil made the mistake of going first," he recalled, somewhat smugly. "I sat there and thought, 'Never let me in that room after you leave because I will close the deal.' ")

What's more, Probst insisted, he's "not going to chase a rating." Much like his fall rivals, including newcomers Couric and Lake, his pretaped entry won’t be “celebrity-driven,” which is to say he doesn’t want his series to be another stop on a star’s promotional tour, nor will it be about cat fights and paternity tests. “If you’re looking for Jerry [Springer] or Maury [Povich], this is not your show,” he said, noting instead that his daytime role models are Phil Donahue and Oprah

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