Reports that CBS was considering using a special winter edition of Big Brother -- which has exclusively been a summer series since it first premiered in July 2000 -- as strike replacement programming first surfaced last month.
Shortly thereafter, Big Brother casting director Robyn Kass posted that the show would be "coming back a little earlier this year" on her MySpace blog and CBS -- while not confirming Kass' comments -- announced plans for a 15-city nationwide casting tour.
Big Brother's winter edition will use the same three-nights-a-week broadcasting format as the show's summer editions. In addition to Tuesday night broadcasts, Big Brother 9 will air Wednesday and Sunday night editions at 8PM ET/PT beginning February 13 and 17.
With the exception of its Wednesday broadcasts -- which are expected to feature the live elimination broadcasts that have traditionally aired in Survivor's Thursdays at 8PM ET/PT time period during the show's summer editions -- Big Brother 9 will be airing in the same time periods as Big Brother's recent summer editions. The network has not yet determined how long Big Brother 9's season will run, a CBS spokesperson told Reality TV World on Tuesday.
The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen -- who is also the wife of CBS president and CEO Les Moonves -- will reprise her Big Brother hosting duties for the show's ninth edition.
The WGA's three-year contract -- covering 12,000 movie and television writers -- expired on October 31 at midnight after more than three months of negotiations between the organization and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) proved unsuccessful, and despite recent talks, the parties still have not reached a new agreement. As a result, most scripted television shows that debuted their new seasons this fall now have few or none original episodes remaining for broadcast.
Last month, Big Brother executive producer Allison Grodner told the New YorkDaily News that given the uncertainty of the ongoing strike, CBS had told the show's producers to "get ready for anything." The WGA's last strike occurred in 1988 and lasted 22 weeks.
"We really want it to stand out," Grodner told the Daily News about Big Brother's first non-summer installment. "We want it to be special because we've never done something like this before. I promise you it will be different from any other Big Brother you've ever seen."
One of those differences will apparently be the absence of last season's "America's Player" twist that allowed home viewers to secretly control some of the actions of Big Brother 8 houseguest Eric Stein.
"That's really hard to do twice," Grodner told the Daily News. "Anyone coming to be a part of Big Brother this year would know about it and we'd hate to have people act differently because they think that the viewers are in control. ... That doesn't mean that it couldn't return in some other way, but doing exactly what we did again, no."
Big Brother 9 will represent the first time since their initial Summer 2000 editions that Big Brother and Survivor -- which will premiere its sixteenth edition on February 7 -- will air on CBS at the same time.
Big Brother 9 will be replacing The Unit, CBS' military team drama, in the network's Tuesdays at 9PM ET/PT time period. The Amazing Race 12 and Kid Nation -- the reality shows that are currently airing in Big Brother 9's Sunday and Tuesday time periods -- will have completed their seasons by the show's February premiere. Prior to Big Brother 9's premiere, CBS plans to run new episodes of Power of 10 in the Wednesdays at 8PM ET/PT time period (Kid Nation's season finale will air December 12).
In addition to Big Brother,Survivor, and Power of 10, CBS also plans to debut new seasons of The New Adventures of Old Christine and Jericho as well as The Captain, a new sitcom starring Jeffrey Tambor, in January and February.