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It was a huge change to the most important moment of the season and could have gone horribly wrong. But when Survivor debuted a new open Q&A final Tribal Council format instead of each juror making a question or comment and then retreating back to silence, both players and fans responded overwhelmingly positively to the format switch.
While in Fiji, we spoke to host Jeff Probst about the big change — which will also be seen in Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers (premiering Sept. 27 on CBS) — and he revealed that the impetus for the move came from the frustration he felt during final Tribal Councils. “As the guy that’s used to controlling a Tribal,” says Probst, “and knowing that I’m an interviewer so that I can ask questions — turning that over to people to ask one question, I would sit there at Tribal and go, ‘We’re killing our season right now. We’re killing it. It’s not their fault. This is not why they’re here.’”
What’s even more interesting is that Probst admits it took him quite a long time to actually pull the trigger on making the change — years, in fact. “It took me a couple of years to get the guts because it’s a massive format change. Didn’t pull the trigger until season 33. I’d had enough. And making that decision, for me anyway, was the most I’ve fretted over something in quite a while.”
Watch the video above as Probst talks about how the new format reminds him of an Olympic sport and the precise moment when he realized it was working. Also, make sure to peruse our “35 Reasons to Love Survivor” gallery, and for way too much Survivor scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.