NEW YORK — As Jeff Probst planned his new talk show, he test-drove variations of the typical daytime program.
The “Survivor” host threw out the usual, started over and premiered a show Monday filled with ideas united only by his enthusiasm. Probst is part of a crowded Class of 2012 in the syndicated TV talk-show world. But he's less known than his rivals — Katie Couric, Steve Harvey and Ricki Lake.
Already energetic, the 50-year-old Probst is buoyed by life as a newlywed and stepdad to his wife Lisa's two children. Getting married took him from his comfort zone to a better place and also provided “The Jeff Probst Show” with a theme, which is to encourage people to take chances and try new things in life.
His first week's guests include a couple in their 90s who met and got married within two weeks, three women in their 80s who dispense sex advice, stars of the documentary “The Queen of Versailles” who talk about their effort to build a big new house, and an 8-year-old girl who founded an organization to make the world a better place.
During the “Guys on the Couch” segment, Probst picks two men from the audience to come onstage and answer questions from women, primarily on sex and relationships.
The daily “Ambush Adventure” segment is an idea most inspired by “Survivor.” He chooses someone in the audience to do something to shake up their lives. They have to agree before knowing what that is.
In one episode, an audience member reveals his dream to try standup comedy. Probst hands him a microphone and says he has 30 seconds to make the audience laugh. If he succeeds, he'll get a temporary job as a warmup comic for the talk show. The guy bombs.
The party room is unique, inspired by the welcoming atmosphere Probst found backstage at Jimmy Kimmel's show. The room next to Probst's stage is built like a living room, with massage chairs, a makeover station, photo booth, snacks and computers to check social media.
“It's in my nature that I'm a people pleaser,” Probst said. “I'm asking you to be part of this, so I'm worried about you having a good time.”
His wife works as a talent coordinator for the show and will also appear on the air. Just about anyone who works backstage, is in the audience or visiting the party room has a chance to get on.