Report: CBS preparing early 2008 'Big Brother' edition due to strike
By Christopher Rocchio, 11/07/2007
CBS is reportedly preparing to bring Big Brother back as early as February due to the recent Writers Guild of America strike.
While Big Brother has been a summer stalwart since it first premiered in July 2000, CBS has begun staffing for an early 2008 in-season broadcast run of the reality series, sources "familiar with the situation" toldDaily Variety in a Tuesday report.
The Writers Guild of America went on strike Monday after attempts at last-minute negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers failed over the weekend, creating a scenario in which television viewers will (assuming the strike doesn't end quickly) see an increasingly heavy slate of unscripted programming in the coming months. The WGA's last strike occurred in 1988 and lasted 22 weeks.
Given Big Brother has traditionally aired three one-hour broadcasts a week, the show could easily help CBS fill several primetime programming schedule holes during the strike.
In anticipation of a possible strike, Variety reported CBS "quietly" started casting for the ninth installment of the show a few weeks ago.
In addition, Variety reported there's also "been buzz" that the Big Brother installment CBS is preparing could be a celebrity edition -- a long-rumored concept that CBS president and CEO Les Moonves first suggested in 2002, a year after the U.K. begun airing its annual Celebrity Big Brother installments in 2001.
Back in January 2006, TMZ reported that CBS was expected to announce "the cast of the first celebrity edition of Big Brother" alongside its Survivor: Panamacast announcement. However no such announcement was ever made and Moonves -- citing the idea as unworkable and a difficult fit for the network -- later told The St. Petersburg Times that there were no plans for a Celebrity Big Brotherseries.
The WGA strike could actually help facilitate a U.S. Celebrity Big Brother series, according to Variety, since those stars participating wouldn't have their production schedules filled with scripted television and movie projects.
The prospect of Big Brother returning to CBS' schedule before summer was also mentioned on Tuesday morning's broadcast of CBS' The Early Show, on which Big Brother host -- and Moonves' wife -- Julie Chen serves as co-anchor. According to Variety, fellow The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm joked that Big Brother may return to the airwaves before the summer, to which Chen responded with a role of the eyes and a comment that she hopes the WGA strike is settled soon.
CBS executives declined to comment on if Big Brother would be back before next summer, Variety reported.