Anne Dudek by Chris Haston/NBC Universal/Fox Anne Dudek by Chris Haston/NBC Universal/Fox

Dr. House's little game of "Survivor Princeton Plainsboro" came to an end last night when Anne Dudek's Cutthroat Bitch became the 37th and final doc voted off his diagnostics team, leaving Kutner (Kal Penn), Taub (Peter Jacobson) and Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) as the final three standing. Although CB's dismissal didn't come as a complete surprise - news of Penn, Jacobson and Wilde's permanent status leaked out last month - it was nonetheless a crushing blow to those of us (yours truly included) who found Dudek's ruthless doc enormously intriguing, not to mention a major gas. So, why did the bitch get the boot? And what was behind the decision to keep Kutner, Taub and Thirteen? In this exclusive interview, House executive producer Katie Jacobs reveals the method to the mad scheme that recharged the show and called for the firing of 37 actors in the span of three months.

Why'd you cut the Cutthroat Bitch! I loved her!
Katie Jacobs:
I can tell you that it was a phenomenally difficult decision. When we decided to go in this [ Survivor-like] direction this season, [fellow exec producer] David Shore and I never anticipated that we'd fall in love with as many of the characters as we did - and [Cutthroat Bitch] was certainly one of those. But I would say that, if you want to see more of her, so do we. And I think that that might happen. She's terrific, and she adds a really great color to the group. I'm looking forward to finding a way that she could come back into the fold.

When did you know who the final three would be?
At the very last minute, because we really didn't know how it was all going to work out. We went around the writers room and everyone quietly ranked who they wanted to write for. Everybody loved all the actors; it was more a question of who they wanted to write for and how they clashed with and blended with House.

How did the actors find out their characters were being fired? By reading the script?
No. We wouldn't do that. But David and I also knew that if we sent a message to the set that we wanted to meet with them, then they would know automatically that [they were being let go]. But, unfortunately, this became the way that we did it, because we felt that it was really important [to tell them ourselves] - even before the actors' representation knew. First we would talk to Hugh [Laurie] and let him know - because we always include him in the business of the show - and then David and I would go visit them in their trailer or we would call them on the phone. It was horrible. It was really horrible.

I can only imagine.
But [creatively] it was fun, because we opened up and expanded our world. Until this season, we had a much smaller cast than most one-hour [dramas]. And the thing is, I am still in love with Cameron, Chase and Foreman. And how they will fold back in is of equal interest to us as Cole, who has been cut, but who had a really strong presence on the show.

On the surface, it would seem like Jennifer and Olivia's characters serve the same purpose: They're both ridiculously hot young doctors harboring a crush on House. Is it fair to say that there will be some tension between the two?
I didn't know that people thought Thirteen had a crush on House.

Well, it seems pretty obvious that she's drawn to him. And vice-versa.
He's drawn to her strength. And I think she calls him on what he sees. But there are layers of who Thirteen is that have not been revealed yet. She's very different from Cameron, and I can only speak about their backstory. You know, Cameron is a person who feels the compulsive need to heal. She's attracted to the most wounded characters, as evidenced by the fact that she married someone who was dying. Thirteen is hidden, and hasn't yet revealed very much about herself. She doesn't really want to look into the future, and House finds that enormously compelling. So, to me, they're both different. They are both beautiful, however. That much is true.

Skeptics would say that Kal and Olivia, arguably the two biggest stars from the original pool of candidates, were shoo-ins to make it to the final cut.
You know it's really funny. And I just had this conversation with Kal not a moment ago. I just received my copy of Harold and Kumar, and I equated it with the tunnel vision I have when David and I are casting. And despite the fact that I have three kids, I hadn't seen [Laurie in] Stuart Little. The funny thing is - and I don't know if anyone knows this - the part of Cole was not written as African-American. We saw all ethnicities. We actually imagined that he wouldn't be African-American. We tend to treat the casting process as part of the creative process, so we usually don't set limitations beforehand. We actually saw Kal for the role of Cole. And I was so taken with Kal, not really being aware of his previous work, that we started to talk about Kal as Kutner. And the other thing is, we weren't looking for stars, quote unquote. Kal and Olivia may have a higher profile, but I think they do themselves a favor by coming in and auditioning, which is what they did. We did not offer any of these roles to people who didn't come in and read. We were just looking to go through the casting process and be genuine to that process. And I think when you leave yourself open to ethnicity and age, you have a better chance for success.

For more from Jacobs - including scoop on what's next for Chase and Cameron - check out next week's Ask Ausiello. In the meantime, use that spiffy white box below to express your feelings about House's new team. Do you agree with his picks? And if not, who would have been your ideal final three? Me? My dream team would've included CB, Cole and Kutner.