Survivor and Big Brother both launched in the summer of 2000. Both involve contestants voting each other out in the hopes of wining a big cash prize. And both air on CBS. But the shows have far more differences than similarities. Survivor takes place entirely outdoors in exotic locations halfway around the world, while Big Brother is set in a tricked-out house in Los Angeles. For years, Survivor (along with The Amazing Race) was considered the gold standard of reality programming, while Big Brother is more of cheesy guilty pleasure in which contestants dress up in hot dog costumes and must contend with a showtunes-loving clam named Otev and a sassy robot dubbed the Zingbot.
With all that in mind, I asked Jeff Probst while on location for filming of Survivor: Blood vs. Water (which premieres on Sept. 18) whether he had any issues in having a player — Hayden Moss, boyfriend of Survivor: One World’s Kat Edorsson — from the circus that is Big Brother now competing on his show. To my surprise, Probst (who has been very candid in the past with his thoughts on casting) said he has no concerns at all. “When [casting director] Lynne Spillman first said, ‘Let’s talk about Kat, her boyfriend is Hayden who won Big Brother,’ I thought maybe there might be a little hesitation,” says Probst. “There was none. And the people that were quickly in favor of it were all fans of Hayden. And they said ‘He’s really good. You’re gonna like him.’ Even before I met him they kept saying, ‘You’re gonna like him. He’s rootable, he’s charming, he could win.’ And anytime I hear the words ‘he or she could win,’ I’m interested, cause I’m looking for winners. We are always going to have enough people who can’t win, but it’s few on the shows that have a shot at winning. Hayden is one of those guys.”
Probst also goes on to say how he has no problem with associating Survivor with the lower wattage (and lower budget) Big Brother. “I love that we’re cross-promoting these worlds,” says Probst. “Because there are people who watch Survivor that watch Big Brother, and there are people that watch Big Brother that watch Survivor, and I hope they come over if they’ve never seen Survivor before but they like Hayden, they get a taste of our show. I have no issue with it.”
Click on the video player below to hear more from Probst on the subject, including his take on which show is harder, and the reveal that Hayden was actually almost cast on Survivor before he appeared on Big Brother.