Survivor‘s next season will look a bit different than fans have grown used to over the years. A bit of a format shuffle is coming for Season 41, though unlike other long-running shows it doesn’t have a hosting crisis. In fact, longtime Survivor host Jeff Probst is actually the mastermind behind these big changes.
We won’t know exactly how all that plays out until the show premieres on September 22, but Probst revealed during an interview for the new season that he also included another showrunner in the revision process. In fact, he apparently got some very good feedback from The White Lotus creator Mike White.
Survivor superfans would perhaps recognize White not as Ned Schneebly from School of Rock or the guy explaining The White Lotus in HBO after the episode highlights, but as a contestant on the “David vs. Goliath” season of Survivor. White nearly won, and as Entertainment Weekly detailed this week that expertise was called upon by Probst while he was mulling over changes for the next season.
“I was in my garage with several white boards, working on creative for Survivor 41,” says the host. “I called Mike for his insight into a story-related element. He listened politely as I laid out the idea. It was an elaborate and very complicated Survivor capitalist society that would be driven by players earning money (Fire Tokens) and spending them on shelter, rewards, and advantages. When I finished the pitch, I asked him what he thought. He paused for a moment and said, ‘Well… it sounds… in-ter-est-ing. But is it fun?'”
According to Probst, that prompt “changed everything” and helped result in another round of drafts that eventually reached the current format the show will debut later this year.
“I couldn’t erase the white boards fast enough,” he says. “I had spent well over a year working on this idea, and yet it still felt so good to throw it out because it was so clear that it sucked! I called [executive producer] Matt Van Wagenen and said, ‘Forget everything we’ve been working on! Throw it out! From now on, fun is the only thing that matters!'”
Hopefully those notes helped make for a more fun show, though if you’ve seen White’s latest show it’s very funny to imagine him creating any fun at all in a tropical location.