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JEFF PROBST, 'SURVIVOR'

The Hosts With The Most

They welcome us. Now Emmy welcomes them.

June 11, 2008|Christy Grosz

WE'RE on a first-name basis with them: Tyra is fierce, and Ty wipes tears even as he swings a hammer. Their accessories are iconic: Howie's got models with briefcases, and Jeff presides over fifth-graders. And then there are those signature lines: Padma doles a gentle blow ("Please pack your knives and go"), while Heidi's kiss-off is less than sweet ("You're out.") No wonder Emmy has decided to give it up for the hosts of prime time, a job that can entail herding contestants through a worldwide scavenger hunt, judging amateur dancers or building dream homes. We talk to some of those who will be in pursuit of Emmy's first reality TV show host award, including "American Idol" frontman Ryan Seacrest, "So You Think You Can Dance" emcee Cat Deeley, Jeff "The Tribe Has Spoken" Probst of "Survivor," and the well-traveled "Amazing Race" guide Phil Keoghan.

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AFTER 16 locations, innumerable contentious tribal councils and six trips to the Emmy Awards as a producer, "Survivor" host Jeff Probst might have reason to feel jaded about finally being eligible for an Emmy for his on-camera work on the CBS reality series.

But Probst, who has served as the face of "Survivor" since its 2000 debut and earned an Emmy for producing in 2001, says he's excited about the academy's decision to create a reality host category. "We're out months at a time on 'Survivor' working hard, trying to tell compelling stories. It feels good to be included as part of the family."

Although the reality format has taken its fair share of knocks, Probst sees the move as a positive sign for the genre. "People are starting to accept that, although it's a different form of storytelling, it is still a legitimate form of storytelling. 'Survivor' is very similar to 'Lost' . . . where you have big dramatic stories that are arcing."

There's sure to be some drama within the new category too, considering that it encompasses everything from slick, studio-based productions to jungle-based location shoots. "When you think of the traditional hosting roles, you think of someone like Ryan," Probst says. "On 'Survivor,' the story's constantly changing without warning, so the host's job is to help the survivors navigate through this adventure. You might have to reconsider what a host is in reality [TV], because I don't think there's a traditional definition."

-- Christy Grosz

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