‘Big Brother’ offers another celebrity edition



Julie Chen Moonves-hosted CBS contest spans three weeks

Julie Chen Moonves

If a network is looking for a way to counterprogram the Winter Olympics for a reasonably extended period, a celebrity edition of “Big Brother” is one way to do it, as has been proven before.

In 2018, CBS used a special version of the competition — which typically airs during the summer months — to occupy a sizable chunk of its schedule while the Winter Games were playing out elsewhere. That network will do so again by launching its third “Big Brother: Celebrity Edition” Wednesday, Feb. 2, and then continuing it on most nights for the following three weeks until Feb. 23. Contestants include Carson Kressley, “Saturday Night Live” alum Chris Kattan, actor Todd Bridges (“Diff’rent Strokes”), former Miss USA Shanna Moakler and NBA veteran Lamar Odom.

As usual, Julie Chen Moonves will be the host in charge of giving the players (who had yet to be confirmed at press time) their marching orders from the moment they enter the “Big Brother House.” However, much of the fascination comes not from how well they play the individual games, but from how they interact generally with one another; holding to tradition, a plethora of cameras and microphones will be capturing those moments.

One benefit in enlisting personalities to participate in “Big Brother: Celebrity Edition” is that it plays out over a relatively finite period of time. Whether someone gets booted from the house early or stays until the end, they have a solid idea of how much time has to be invested … so any other commitments can be worked around their houseguest “reservations.”

In terms of which celebrities have played “Big Brother” before, Tony Award winner Marissa Jaret Winokur (“Hairspray”) won the first version that featured the famous. A year later, in 2019, singer and television personality Tamar Braxton emerged from the house as the victor. 

Whenever well-known people are recruited for a contest that typically involves everyday folks, there’s a “They’re just like us!” aspect that the given show’s makers hope will draw an audience (see: “Celebrity Family Feud,” “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune,” celebrity editions of “Jeopardy!,” etc.). CBS clearly is counting on “Big Brother: Celebrity Edition” to do that again, making it a game to rival the Games once more this winter.

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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