Variety (subscription required) reports that the plans to broadcast the finale live were scrubbed after the Panama City landmark Arco Chato collapsed on November 7. The Arco Chato ("flat arch"), an elliptical arch built around 1675 as part of the "Iglesia y Convento de Santo Domingo" and one of Panama's top tourist attractions, had been intended to serve as the primary location for the live broadcast.
Instead, the finale of Survivor: Pearl Islands will originate from CBS's Studio City complex in Los Angeles. Jeff Probst will again serve as host of both the finale and reunion. This will be the fifth Survivor finale to take place in Studio City; the other two (after Survivor: Marquesas and Survivor: The Amazon) were held in New York's Central Park. Since pre-production had not yet begun for the finale, CBS suffered no economic loss from the change ... although Panama will suffer a significant one.
We can't help but see a relationship between Mark Burnett's decision to hold back-to-back series of Survivor in the same country for the first time ever and the collapse of one of the country's best-known landmarks ... a landmark considered to be so stable that it was used to illustrate why the canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans should be located in Panama instead of Nicaragua. Maybe it's a good thing for the United States that all the Survivor series take place in foreign countries.