NEW YORK – As Jeff Probst planned his new talk show, he test-drove variations of the typical daytime program – an hour on the couch talking about social issues.
They were so boring I couldn’t even sit through the focus groups, he recalled. It felt old. It just felt like the format was tired.
So the Survivor man threw it out, started over and is premiering a daytime show Monday filled with ideas united only by his enthusiasm. There’s a party room. An ambush adventure. Guys on the couch. His wife on the air.
Maybe he’ll succeed and maybe he won’t. But he’s determined to have fun.
Probst is part of a crowded class of 2012 in the syndicated talk world. Even though he’s spent the past decade in prime time as host of television’s most consistently successful reality show, he’s less known than his rivals – Katie Couric, Steve Harvey and Ricki Lake. Locally, Probst’s show airs at 3 p.m. on WISE, Channel 33.
What he faces is introducing himself, said Bill Carroll, an expert in the syndication market for Katz Media. They know that, with the promotions they are doing. Some of the audience knows him from Survivor,’ some know him as a Regis (Philbin) substitute. For some, he’s a new face. That’s the challenge.
Already energetic, the 50-year-old Probst is buoyed by life as a newlywed and stepdad to his wife Lisa’s two children. Getting married took him from his comfort zone to a better place and also provided The Jeff Probst Show with a theme, which is to encourage people to take chances and try new things in life.
During the Guys on the Couch segment, Probst picks two men from the audience to come onstage and answer questions from women.
The daily Ambush Adventure segment is an idea most inspired by Survivor. He chooses someone in the audience to do something to shake up their lives. They have to agree before knowing what that is.
The party room is unique, inspired by the welcoming atmosphere Probst found backstage at Jimmy Kimmel’s show. The room next to Probst’s stage is built like a living room, with massage chairs, a makeover station, photo booth, snacks and computers to check social media.
It’s in my nature that I’m a people pleaser, Probst said. I’m asking you to be part of this, so I’m worried about you having a good time. I want you to feel good. I want you to tell your friends that they treated us really well and the show is really fun. And that you got to be on TV.