'Dancing With the Stars': Jeff Probst fascinated by 'the Palin factor'

jeff-probst-survivor-320.jpg Jeff Probst has his own competition-show finale to be concerned with, but that doesn't mean he isn't keeping an eye on "Dancing With the Stars."

His mother has made sure of it.

The multiple-Emmy-winning host and producer of CBS' "Survivor" is eager to see the ABC dance contest's season finale Monday and Tuesday (Nov. 22 and 23) ... in part because he watched finalists Jennifer Grey, Kyle Massey and Bristol Palin in action firsthand recently.

"I took my mom [to a 'Dancing' taping] just a couple of weeks ago," Probst tells Zap2it. "We went to dinner with [co-host Tom Bergeron] afterward, and he couldn't have been more gracious. He regaled Mom with every story she would want to hear, being that she is a huge 'Dancing With the Stars' fan.

"I find this season incredibly fascinating," Probst adds, "for the obvious reason of the Palin factor. I'm not one of these people who buys into the fact that the audience is behind her because she's an underdog and has become a better dancer. I absolutely believe this is related to politics."

Probst points out that "Survivor" executive producer Mark Burnett fills the same role on "Sarah Palin's Alaska," the just-launched TLC series. "I e-mailed him," Probst says, "and I told him, 'Between that and "Dancing With the Stars," you guys are going to get her elected!'

"It's a crazy world we live in right now, where a reality show can be so popular that it can actually influence -- or be influenced by -- politics. It doesn't upset me or make me want to shoot my TV (as a Wisconsin viewer did this week), but it's absolutely fascinating."

Now airing regularly on Wednesdays, "Survivor" has its 21st-season finale Sunday, Dec. 19. Since the other episodes are taped months ahead of the last telecast, that would give Probst the time to be a "Dancing With the Stars" contestant himself ... but, he advises, don't hold your breath.

"Nope," he says definitively. "Every time I go to that show, somebody says, 'Oh, you're checking it out.' Let me assure you, I would be one of the worst dancers that show has ever seen. I wouldn't want to dedicate that much time to it. I like watching it, but I wouldn't be good for it. Even my mom might say, 'OK, honey. Maybe there are some things you can't do.'"
Photo/Video credit: CBS