By John Powell – GlobalTV.com
At this point, they might as well give him his own gavel and robe. For the sixth year, Big Brother 2 winner and legendary houseguest Dr. Will Kirby is back once again to bring some order, decorum and objectivity to the jury roundtable. In an exclusive interview, Globaltv.com caught up to the Big Brother mastermind to get his take on this year’s jury and the process itself.
John Powell: What was it like to host the jury roundtable segment for Big Brother for the past six seasons?
Dr. Will Kirby: “Please allow me to preface this interview by stating something that should be obvious but needs to be proclaimed nonetheless: The jury roundtable segments have nothing to do with me. I am but a humble guide attempting to help the jurors. If I did my job well then the viewers should have barely even notice me on their screens during the finales. But what was it like? Well, it was really, really fun!”
John Powell: It seems each jury was different. Did you change your approach accordingly?
Dr. Will Kirby: “Every jury is absolutely different and each time I never know exactly what I am walking into. See juries have their own personality. Each is living, breathing, unpredictable. That said, there are naturally some key talking points that needed to be addressed each time so while they did differ, there are some similarities too, of course. I try to meld my style, cadence and personality to best suit that year’s jury and to politely usher them through the final steps of their Big Brother journey. If that sounds obtuse, it shouldn’t; my sincere goal as the jury roundtable moderator is to keep peace and allow everyone a chance to have their opinion heard. Some jurors had been sequestered for nearly two months and really need that forum to collect their thoughts.”
John Powell: What is your goal as the host of the jury roundtable segment?
Dr. Will Kirby: “I have to be as fair and objective as possible and I am well aware that I am nothing more than an ambassador that helped organize what could become a disjointed conversation. To wit, there have been unsubstantiated myths propagated by the vacuous that I am instructed to guide the jury to vote for or against a specific individual. That is 100 percent, unequivocally false and absolutely never occurred in any way, shape or form. I deny any and all intimations otherwise. My presence should absolutely not have swayed any perceptions, bias the jury members or push an agenda.”
“Funny story. Immediately after the season finale last year, a juror approached me and in a condescending tone and said:
“Just so you know, your jury roundtable session didn’t work on me at all and you didn’t sway my vote in the slightest.”
“I was stunned.”
“Um, I wasn’t ever trying to sway your vote, genius.”
“That’s someone who clearly just doesn’t have the mental capacity to understand how the Big Brother jury process works. Unquestionably, my only intention is to provide for healthy jury discourse and to impart the importance of keeping an open mind. I only serve the jury as a humble reality Charon on a choppy river Styx. Each juror is encouraged to weigh all the positives and negatives of the final three players and to make his or her own independent decision.”
John Powell: Rumour has it that the jury has already made a voting pact? If that is true, what do you think of that strategy?
Dr. Will Kirby: “Let me be clear. There has never been a pact in the past and I firmly believe that there won’t be a jury group-voting pact implemented this year either. When the jury discussion starts, the concept of a pact quickly dissolves and common sense prevails. Please understand that it’s easy to saber-rattle and make inflammatory claims in the heat of the moment but I really believe that most jurors make an objective decision when called upon to do so. This year, Scottie made the claim that a pact was present (to his own, foolish detriment possibly?) when he returned from the jury house there was, and still is now, a ton of game left to be played.”
John Powell: What’s the most frustrating part about hosting the jury roundtable session?
Dr. Will Kirby: “Nothing about hosting the jury roundtable is ever frustrating per se but I’d remiss if I didn’t state that it is always disappointing when someone denies being bitter and then clearly place a vote just oozing bitterness. There really is nothing wrong with being bitter as long as you acknowledge it, as long as you own it! But placing a bitter vote and denying that it was a bitter vote just makes you appear acrimonious, something that the fans don’t respond well to. See, each Big Brother juror crafts his or own personal legacy and placing a bitter vote undermines the game and makes that juror look foolish.”
John Powell: How do you address the issue of animosity and personal feelings when it comes to voting?
Dr. Will Kirby: “Well, some jurors that I had low expectations for totally shocked me by coming to the jury roundtable with thoughtful insights and concepts, putting their personal feelings aside and then they cast a carefully contemplated vote. And those players earned the invaluable: respect. They earned respect from their fellow jurors, respect from the viewers, respect from the finalists, respect from the production team and respect from themselves. Just because you can’t measure something doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. You can’t measure respect. You can’t see it. You can’t weigh it. But it’s there.”
“Let’s dive deeper. The weirdest thing is that each year there is at least one extremely angry juror, just one pouty antagonist. Now understand that this person isn’t going to get mad at the production team. They have been living in the jury house and are getting along with the fellow jurors so they aren’t going to be mad at them. They know the finalists are popular so they don’t want to appear mad at them and they just don’t know where to channel their anger. So, they get mad at the only person left: me, a complete stranger that they have never met before. I was introduced to them only moments earlier and when I gently broach their behavior and gameplay they totally freak out on me! It’s like I’m the path of least resistance so that’s just where their dark emotional travels take them. It is so very odd that the feebleminded allowed their animosity to spill over and they spew their venom at me. Even after the show some were still angry at me which is ludicrous. To best answer your question, animosity and personal feelings are occasionally present at the jury roundtable and for those few who can’t be objective and put those feelings aside, at least temporarily, well then I’m happy to be their foil if it moves the conversation along and allows us to accomplish our goal. I also don’t take it personally. I’m evolved enough to recognize that it’s not me that they hate – they hated their own gameplay. And it is sad to me when the select the final remnant of their Big Brother legacy to be one of abhorrence and disrespect for the game. But that’s their burden to bear. Luckily those types of houseguests are in the minority. Again, most of the jury members are wonderful! Smart, fun, funny, self-depreciating – awesome! They get it!”
John Powell: Do you think there should be a set of instructions given to the jury every year defining their obligations or criteria for voting? Why or why not?
Dr. Will Kirby: “They are given instructions: They are asked to debate the merits of the final three, to dissect their gameplay and to determine who played the best game. Will they follow instructions? Will they allow for an open, useful, healthy dialog? Do they fulfill their duties and meet the obligations they agreed to when there were selected as houseguests? Most usually do.”
John Powell: Do you think the jury should be permitted to watch the feeds from the jury house? Why or why not?
Dr. Will Kirby: “The options are to either sequester the jury with no feeds or not sequester the jurors and allow them to watch as much or as little of the show as they please. I’ve been in both situations (via Big brother Two [no sequester] and Big Brother All-Stars [sequestered jury]) and I truly see the values in both of those prospects.”
John Powell: What new projects are on the horizon or what have you been working on lately?
Dr. Will Kirby: “Fans forget that invisibility is a superpower. I have a “public persona” on social media but I keep 99% of my life invisible. Reclusive. Elusive. Exclusive. Pointing being, any and all project information will be reveled in due time, strategically and the last thing I would ever want to do is to try to steal fame from this year’s houseguests. What is on the horizon for me right now is watching an incredible Big Brother 20 finale! No shameless plugs here!”
John Powell: In your previous roles as jury moderator is there any situation or happening that comes to mind that we didn’t get to see on the television broadcasts that you found interesting? Are there any curious behind the scenes stories?
Dr. Will Kirby: “I’m bound by strict confidentially but let me loudly state that each year some footage just didn’t make it on your TV because of the lewd content, inappropriate language, jurors talking over each other, violent verbal outbursts, rambling nonsense, aloof houseguests just staring blankly out into the void, time constraints, etc. And again, the jury roundtable isn’t about me so if and when a juror starts to attempt to debate me personally, well that footage naturally isn’t shown.”
John Powell: How do you feel about what fans call a “bitter jury”?
Dr. Will Kirby: “I’d like to shift for a second and discuss bitter fans. See, social media has offered fans the ability to voice their opinions at breakneck speed and that’s a relatively new concept. In Big Brother Two, a disgruntled fan had to hire a banner plane and wait a few days to send a tiny, expensive message. Now, they can just lick the Cheeto dust off their fingertips, elbow a cat off a yellowing keyboard and craft a lengthy, cost-free diatribe in real-time. But the bottom line is this: Robyn Kass is a spectacular casting director and if you have the time and motivation to tweet about your favorite or least favorite houseguests then why not simply put that energy into applying? If you hate the quarterback of an NFL team in your city all you can really do is complain because you don’t have the elite athletic skill-set to compete in a professional sport. You can’t apply online to be an NFL quarterback but if you hate a Big Brother houseguest then apply for Big Brother! So don’t just be a bitter viewer at home on your couch and don’t just be a bitter fan on your social media channel. Become a houseguest on Big Brother. Send your application to Robyn today.”
John Powell: Do you think viewers should ever be able to influence the game of Big Brother?
Dr. Will Kirby: “My advice to the viewers is this: Let the supremely talented production team do their job and if you get to help influence the game through online voting then absolutely take that opportunity and enjoy it. Viewers have absolutely no idea how hard it is to produce a show like Big Brother. It’s like piloting a fully staffed aircraft carrier in the middle of a three-month-long typhoon. Allison, Rich, Chris, Don and Shawn are the best in the business. That team is perfection and just trust that there is a reason for everything they do. So should viewers have the opportunity influence the game in any capacity? Just know that every single decision made by the production team isn’t an accident. Every single thing they do is calculated. Some seasons viewers do get some meaningful influence and some seasons the viewers influence is marginalized. And so what? The show is constantly evolving so enjoy the process and take advantage of your voting opportunities if they arise. Enjoy the show! And, again, if you really and truly want to influence the game of Big Brother then apply to be on Big Brother.”
John Powell: Would you even return to a non-scripted reality television show and if so, what would be the ideal scenario, if any?
Dr. Will Kirby: “It would take something very, very, very interesting to draw me back in. And I’ve had opportunities but nothing interesting enough to make me pull the trigger. Yet.”
John Powell: The past six seasons have had a jury moderator present during the roundtable discussion but that’s a relatively new concept. Do you think the outcome of older seasons of Big Brother would have been different if there had been a jury moderator?
Dr. Will Kirby: “I do but I have no further specific comment on this front as my feelings aren’t prudent to this topic. I’ll leave it up to the fans to debate which seasons would have had a different winner with a moderated jury roundtable discussion.”
John Powell: What are your thoughts on players that return to compete in reality television competition-based shows multiple times?
Dr. Will Kirby: “If you lost a show once, come back a second time and end up winning then you made a great decision and you have totally redeemed yourself. But that is a rarity. And could it be psychologically damaging to continuously return time after time after time to competitive realty shows having never won? I don’t honestly know but I do wonder about it. I’ve heard there are some previous Big Bother players who have now lost CBS reality shows and/or CBS games shows five times. Some former Big Brother houseguests have now lost Survivor, The Amazing Race and multiple seasons of Big Brother, etc. My point is this: Apply. Get on. And do the absolute best you can while you are there. Don’t worry about the future because you may never get another opportunity. Focus on the present. Focus on the show that you are on. Focus on the now. It drives me bananas when a juror, during the actual roundtable discussion, references how he or she wants to play Big Brother again in the future or if I felt they qualified for Big Brother All Stars II or how they would do better on a different CBS reality show as though they had completed their Big Brother season in the distant past. I just want to yell at them: You currently are on a CBS reality show! You are an active juror on Big Brother.”
John Powell: What is something you’d like to see on Big Brother that has never been done before?
Dr. Will Kirby: “Hmmm. There have been two engagements on Big Brother between former houseguests – and one of those was this season. So, I think it is time for a Big Brother divorce or at least a messy break up. Are all the couples from Big brother 18 and 19 still together? What? Too soon?”
John Powell: Will you be participating in the backyard interviews this year? Some of your comments were priceless last year.
Dr. Will Kirby: “A true artist is usually never appreciated in his or her lifetime but thanks for your kind words. I tried to make it as funny and as uncanny as possible. I knew that online, backyard interviews were watched by mainly by super fans so I tried to give them something more controversial and completely different than what they were used to getting, a special treat if you will. Many loved it and understood the satire while others didn’t get it at all but you can’t be all things to all people. And if you haven’t seen those, you absolutely should look them up! All that said, I will not be serving Big Brother in that capacity this year. As I said last year, that was one time only: grand opening and grand closing! I’ll try anything once but I have no podcast, interview ambitions. Ross and Marissa are high-energy super fans and they will do an amazing job with the cast interviews. Hopefully I can stop in and make a brief cameo with them on Wednesday night.”
John Powell: Closing thoughts?
Dr. Will Kirby: Let me end this interview by saying that that I can’t emphasize how much the show has meant to me and how much I enjoyed being a tiny part of it after all these years. I won Big Brother seventeen years ago – SEVENTEEN YEARS – and it feels like it was just yesterday. I can only hope that some of the viewers have enjoyed watching me on Big Brother as much as I enjoyed being a houseguest on Big Brother and hosting the jury roundtable segments for the past six years. I hope all the fans recognize how much gratitude I have in my heart for getting to be a tiny part of the Big Brother universe. Both the pleasure and the honor are all mine.”
The finale of Big Brother 20 airs on Global on September 26th at 9:30 pm (ET) following the premiere of Survivor: David vs. Goliath at 8:00 pm (ET).
Big Brother airs Sundays and Wednesdays at 8 et/pt and Thursdays at 9 et/pt on Global. Watch Big Brother online the day after broadcast on GlobalTV.com/BigBrother or on the free Global Go app for iOS and Android.
CATCH UP NOW: Big Brother Full Episodes – Season 20