Q: What did Jeff Probst do before hosting "Survivor"?

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

Before Jeff Probst was being flown to remote islands and outposts as host of the long-running reality smash "Survivor," he was already traveling the world for TV.

Probst held an array of hosting and correspondent gigs, hustling to get his face and voice known in a crowded industry.

He started with a series of shows on the fledgling FX network, including the viewer-response show "Backchat" and the music-themed "Sound FX." He also briefly hosted a show called "Rock & Roll Jeopardy!" for VH1. 

Soon, though, he was getting steady work as a traveling correspondent for "Access Hollywood." He says he logged more than 300,000 miles for the show, attending premieres, interviewing stars and generally preparing himself for a life of airplane food and talking to people.

As soon as he heard about "Survivor," a bold new TV concept that CBS was developing, he knew he wanted to be a part of it. In an interview with Success magazine, he said he campaigned hard for creator Mark Burnett and, having made his case, had to wait and hope.

Burnett, fortunately, has proven to have a pretty good TV instinct -- not only in choosing Probst as the face of the show but in turning "Survivor" into a major TV landmark.

"I was lucky enough that the guy who hired me turned out to be a remarkable storyteller, and he knew how to execute," Probst said. "Because 'Survivor' in the hands of a lot of other television producers could have been a disaster."

Even after landing the hosting gig of a lifetime, Probst hasn't stopped hustling. While he was waiting for his big on-air break, he also wrote a film, and only got a deal to direct it after he landed the "Survivor" gig.

That film, "Finder's Fee," was released in 2001, before he wrote and directed another one, "Kiss Me," in 2014.


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