10:45am PT by Brian Porreca
'Big Brother: Over the Top' Boss Talks Potential Finale "Split Vote" and Digital Edition's Future
On Thursday, the first-ever Big Brother: Over the Top winner will be crowned. Either Morgan, Jason or Kryssie will be walking away with $250,000.
If Twitter is any indication, Kryssie will come in third place and Morgan and Jason be fighting for the title. And it'll be a fitting final two, given that their respective sides of the house have fought back and forth all season long.
"It's interesting to see one from each side represented, which does predict quite possibly a split vote," executive producer Allison Grodner tells The Hollywood Reporter ahead of the finale.
And if the vote is anything like the "really close votes" that Grodner says have been happening throughout the season, it's going to be a tight race.
What do you think has made BBOTT so entertaining?
It's actually different than our summer show, which is good and it's what we wanted. It has a different tone, a different feel, there's certainly much more interaction with the audience. The audience has really played the game this fall! It was exciting to see. There was a lot of interaction online. Groups were split in the house and the vote was split outside as well, which is really interesting because a lot of the times when we do votes, it's very lopsided and it really felt like there were a lot of people arguing for different strategies and trying to play the game. It gave the viewers a chance to play the game. So I think that helped to make it successful in that you really felt like you were impacting the game, which you were. As a viewer, you had the fate of these houseguests in your hand to a very great degree.
With the house divided and split every week, was America's vote in terms of care packages, nominations and evictions close every week?
They actually really were! At least between two of the houseguests. We had a lot of really close votes. You really saw that people chose sides. They were playing the game. If you went on Twitter, if you went online and into the chat rooms, you would see that there were fans for one side of the house versus the other. But because the house was so split down the middle, it felt like the fans were as well. I don't think we've ever seen that before.
How will the finale night play out? Will the third-place finisher be revealed and evicted?
It is the one big live show we're doing this season. It will play out on the stage with a live audience and Julie [Chen] hosting it. The houseguests who have gone home will all come back together to reunite onstage, and at some point during the program the third-place finisher will be announced and evicted and we'll have their eviction interview with Julie. And then the winner will be announced. We will already have tallied the votes. We will have them under lock and key in sealed envelopes, and Julie will be the person that reveals it.
Do all three finalists have a strong argument on why they should win?
It's an interesting one because a lot of seasons there's a clear-cut winner. In this case, you have Jason, who has had a following prior, won a lot more this season and really battled it out. Morgan is unexpected and the underdog. And Kryssie, I'm not sure. We're doing packages with all three about how they made it to the end and it'll be interesting to see her story on that. You have to hand it to her; she did make it to the end. She was part of a strong alliance and she stuck to it. I imagine when she gives her plea that a big talking point will be her loyalty to her alliance and to Jason. She didn't have to betray people, whereas others did. Morgan and Jason were on separate sides of the house all season long, so it's interesting to see one from each side represented, which does predict quite possibly a split vote.
Which player surprised you the most and why?
Looking at the end and who's there, I would have to say that Morgan made it as far as she did. If anything, between the sisters, we knew Alex was more of the gamer and fan and thought that might get her further. For Justin, we didn't know which way it would go. Would he be just so out there that he would be evicted early or would he end up being so likeable that he could make it as far as he did? I always liked Justin, but I do think on day one we thought, "Oh, no! He might just be too out there to sustain."
Looking back at the season, do you think America's involvement this season was too much?
It's funny to me because the fans want more involvement. It was an interesting experiment to see, well, how much is too much? We all have our opinions on, if we were to do this again, where we might make some tweaks here and there. But we enjoyed seeing how this played out with America's involvement. What was great about it, at least, is that it didn't all go one side all the time. And that's what sometimes as producers we worry about, is that fans will just have one favorite and that's it. And in this case, it seemed to change and there seemed to be a really great discussion and debate about both sides. Do we think we might change things up and tweak it a little bit here and there? Of course. We're always doing that with this show, whether it's the summer program or whether we'll be able to do this again. We learn every season.
You said "if" you do this again. What does the future look like for BBOTT? Would it come back next fall?
We don't know. That's a decision CBS and CBS All Access and [CBS] Interactive will be making. But certainly we all had a lot of fun doing it. What we proved is that it's not the same as the summer show, so ideally no one feels like it stepped on the summer show's toes in any way. It was a really new and innovative way to see a competition program play out, to see audience interaction and participation and how that can affect a series in real time and it was a lot of fun to do.
Once everyone can look at the research on all of this, the idea being bringing the broadcast-only viewers into this realm and to see how you watched it. Did you watch things play out live? How often did you? As you know, if you're going to participate in Big Brother fully, it's a huge commitment! (Laughs.) Time-wise, it's almost impossible for people to actually have lives. It offers so many different ways to participate and view.
If America didn't have as much power this season, do you think we'd be looking at a different final three? Have you thought about that?
Yeah, it's possible. I would say that there were some people that were playing — I'm looking at the board [right now] of all that have gone — there are some people that played strong games. They were good competitors, they had a good social game, they were strategizing pretty well. Shelby was probably one of them. Danielle was certainly one of them. Alex was playing a good game at a certain point, Scott. They are all solid players, they really tried. Some of the America votes cut them out sooner than maybe if there wasn't an America vote. But I don't even know if that matters because the truth is, that's not the season they were playing and they all knew it. It's hard to say. If these people were in a summer season, would things be different? Maybe. But that's not this season and they knew it from minute one when they entered the house. They had to play that game. And obviously the people sitting at the end played that game the best.
There's no "America's Favorite Houseguest" this year, right?
Well, "America's Favorite Houseguest" is the winner! (Laughs.) If you look at it, America certainly voted on a lot. They're choosing the winner, so at this point considering they chose the care package, their nominee, who they wanted to evict you have to say that means somehow you made it to the end with some help from the viewers. In some way getting that prize, you have to be a favorite, right?
I call BBOTT a love letter to super fans. They got to see competitions play out live, unlike the regular season, where they get fish. Going forward, will fans be able to watch competitions like the power of veto play out live?
It's a very different thing. You see the difference between the competitions that are done on BBOTT versus Big Brother's summer version. Those are complete and total yard transformations. They're much more complex, big builds. They require a lot of time, and time behind the scenes to make them work. This was built so that people could watch it. We have less down time and they're definitely simpler to play. So no, we don't see changing that for the summer season. It's just not possible. They really are different beasts.
What about the no-napping rule? Will we see that on future seasons?
This was an experiment for that. We'd like to see if there's a way of implementing it. It's a tough one, and I think they embraced it and followed it for the majority of the season. As you can see towards the end, people start to get a little stir-crazy and escape by sleeping. That's what happens to people in captivity. It's hard to enforce it all the way to the end. We're going to assess and take a look at it. It was a good rule. It certainly appeals to the live-feed viewers, and we'd like to see if there's some way of implementing it in the summer.
Which players from BBOTT would you want to see on a regular season of Big Brother?
I'd love to hear from the fans what they think. There are a few personalities that would be fun to see in the summer, but honestly we cast all of them to be on this version.
So none of them are ever coming back?
I'm not saying that! (Laughs.) We've certainly brought people back from different seasons. It doesn't rule them out to be brought back at some point, but it would be interesting to ask the fans. What are their thoughts?
You finally have somewhat of a break from Big Brother.
A couple of months! (Laughs.)
Have you started planning what Big Brother 19 will look like? What are you looking forward to most about next season?
Oh my gosh! Give me a break! (Laughs.) This has been the longest summer ever! I'm looking forward to not thinking about it for a month at least. But you know, it's always fun when we get started again to talk about how we reinvent things, how we twist things up, what the new house will look like, what the new cast will look like. It's fun once we put a season to bed to take the break, recharge and get excited about the next one. I will be, come January.
Who has your vote to win the game? Do you want to see BBOTT come back next fall? Which BBOTT houseguest do you want to see on a summer season? Chat about your pick in the comments section below. Make sure to stay tuned to The Live Feed for all BBOTT finale coverage including backyard interviews with the houseguests and an exclusive Facebook live Q&A on THR's Facebook with the BBOTT winner minutes after the finale.