Jeff Probst: We knew Malcolm Freberg was a star
'Survivor' host says there was never any doubt that fan favorite would return
"Survivor" host Jeff Probst has revealed he knew contestant Malcolm Freberg would be cast for the next "Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites" season, just days into his first stint on the competition. Freberg, a 25-year-old "Survivor" superfan, lived his dream when he took on the challenge last year on "Survivor: Philippines." He soon became a favorite among viewers and made it all the way to the final four, until he was voted out by the three remaining players.
And thanks to the support of fans and producers, Freberg was given a chance at redemption, as he was cast in the next season -- which would take place on the same location of the Caramoan Islands and shortly after Season 25 wrapped. But Probst tells Entertainment Weekly that he and the other producers were certain early on that Freberg wasn't just someone they could cast for one season and easily let go. He explains, "With Malcolm, we knew we were bringing him back probably 20 days into the game unless he won. I was calling (executive producer) Mark Burnett and saying, 'I think we should consider leaving an opening,' and CBS was very trusting and we just said, ‘Look, we got a guy we think is going to be a star, and so let’s leave a slot open for him.’ And by day 27 or something we had all committed and said, ‘OK, let’s see how this goes and if he doesn’t win, he’s in.'"
Probst wasn't the only one who had an inkling the contestant had potential to be a star on the show. Freberg knew it too. Probst adds, "When he was voted out, I think it was maybe, no exaggeration, maybe three minutes after he was voted out when I went to him after his torch had been snuffed and said, Sooooo... ' And he goes, 'You want me to play again.' I said, 'Wow, how did you know?' and he goes, 'I can tell. I know. I get it. I should play again. And I'm ready. I don't even need to go home. I'm good to go.' He knew!" Freberg's second attempt to outlast his opponents begins on Feb. 13.
"Survivor" returns Wednesday, Feb. 13, on CBS.