In the fall of 2012, reality legend Jeff Probst will step into the talk show ring when his new daytime program premieres in syndication. Probst expects he will continue as emcee of the ever-popular reality game show Survivor, as well. But who knows if the new host will survive the rigors of daytime?
If his past is any indication, there's a good chance he will.
Probst was born Jeffrey Lee Probst in Wichita, Kan., on Nov. 4, 1961. His family moved to Bellevue, Wash., near Seattle, when he was very young. The move was enough for Probst to call Seattle his hometown.
He attended Newport High School and graduated in 1979. Probst discovered his love for communications and filmmaking while attending Seattle Pacific University. One of his first jobs out of college was as a producer for Boeing's marketing department. Probst produced corporate videos, where he served as both creator and talent, narrating many of his films.
And though he's best known as host of Survivor, Probst has acted as host of a number of television programs before Survivor's fall 2000 premiere. In 1994, he was host of Backchat, a program that answered viewer questions about the then new network. He hosted a similar show for the network, called Sound fX, before joining VH1 as host of Rock & Roll Jeopardy! in 1998. That was followed by the NBC TV special Dave Barlia: Extreme Stuntman.
Then, the following year, Probst broke out as host of the mega-hit, Survivor. He has remained host and producer of the program for more than a decade, over 350 episodes.
From that time, Probst has appeared as a guest of nearly every talk show on the air. And he's parlayed his success back into his love of filmmaking. In 2001, he wrote and directed the independent film Finder's Fee, which followed the ups and downs of a man who discovers a wallet containing a lottery ticket worth $6 million. The film starred Ryan Reynolds, James Earl Jones and Matthew Lillard. Another one of his projects, Fish Out of Water, remains in development.
Talk Show Aspirations
So what made Probst turn to talk TV?
Possibly his successful stint as a regular guest host on Live with Kelly. So far, Probst has sat across from Kelly Ripa nearly 20 times. His appearances are marked by his warm humor, calm demeanor and intriguing questions. For a time, he was rumored to be in the running to replace Philbin after his retirement.
Still without a title, Probst's new show comes via CBS Television Distribution and will find Probst interviewing people in the news and taking on timely topics and trends. It's a familiar formula, but with the right amount of charm, Probst could make it look fresh and easy.
- Probst was named one of People magazines "50 Most Beautiful People" in 2001.
- Once host of Rock & Roll Jeopardy! on VH1, Probst is now a regular on Celebrity Jeopardy!.
- Probst is an ordained minister through the Universal Life Church (ULC). The ULC believes that anyone can become a minister almost immediately, through its understanding that all people are already ordained by God. Talk show host Conan O'Brien was ordained as a minister through the ULC to perform a same-sex marriage on his show while the show was in New York City.
- Probst remarried his parents for their 35th wedding anniversary, and was allegedly the minister at Jenna Fischer's wedding. Fischer portrays Pam on The Office.
- As a souvenir, Probst keeps the tool he uses to quench the flames when a contestant is voted "off the island" on Survivor.
- Finder's Fee, Probst's independent film, won awards at two independent film festivals: Best Picture and Best Director at the Seattle Film Festival and Breakthrough Director at Sonoma Valley Film Festival.