We learned this week that Big Brother 10 boasts the oldest cast ever (a 75-year-old great grandpa and a 53-year-old beauty salon owner!). But what is really in store for this crack-brained group of players? Well, for one thing, BB Executive Producer Allison Grodner says the show (still hosted by Julie Chen, pictured) is celebrating the franchise's 10th anniversary by going old school with the format (translation: no more secret couples).
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Because it’s the 10th season, do you feel like you had to do something bigger and better?
ALLISON GRODNER: We’re going back to the original format: putting a cast of strangers in the house who wouldn’t normally cross each other’s paths. This summer you’re going to find a 22-year-old body builder and a 75-year-old great grandpa in the house, and then everything else in between. We’ve had diversity of age in past, but this is clearly the biggest gap, and the grandpa is the oldest contestant we’ve ever had. It’ll be fascinating to watch the generational thing in the house.
There’s nothing old school about America’s Player. Is that twist out this summer?
Casting twists are off the table, but I’m not going to say anything else at this time. You have to keep the game fresh. I think that’s important. These players are die-hard fans so you have to keep them on their toes, as well as the viewers.
A lot of people believed that Adam Jasinski –- the winner of Big Brother 9 -- threw one of the stages of that final HOH [Head of Household] competition. Do you believe that’s true?
He says he didn’t. I believe he threw the final stage of the HOH competition -– and it was a very smart move to do –- so Ryan would win and he therefore wouldn’t have to vote out Sheila. Adam was a lot smarter than he appeared. He made a big point during the jury deliberation of denying that. It was a really bright move, and it was also a bright move to lie about it.
Who did you think was going to win?
Ryan played the better game, but Adam had the gift of gab. Sometimes it comes down to that. Adam did what was important to Big Brother; you’ve got to make the jury like you. We’ll do an update this summer and check in on Adam to see if he did what he said he was going to do: donate that money (to a charity for children).
NEXT: "I think it’s possible you’ll see some food restrictions being mixed up this summer."
Whatever happened to Neil, the other gay man who abruptly left the show early in the season? Fans never really got a satisfying answer explaining his departure.
The answer remains the same: a family emergency and he has remained private about the details, so we will respect that as well.
So what was your verdict on BB9 –- success or failure?
I feel like Big Brother is a great summer show, and summer is where it belongs. I’ve always felt that way. it should air once a year. It was tough to put on a winter season, but if you look at the ratings, if you look at the DVR usage, we really weren’t that far off from where we normally are. I know we still had our core fan base.
At the end of the winter edition, we asked EW.com readers to submit suggestions on how to improve the show, so I wanted to run a few of them by you. Here’s one from a poster named Andy: "Get rid of the food competitions. They're pointless. Instead, they need to do luxury competitions in which winners get a prize, but the losers get some kind of punishment. This would create more chaos in the house than not being able to eat regular food for a few days."
Food competitions give us a time to be silly! They lend comedy. But I also think the house guests should have to work for something since they aren’t growing vegetables or slaughtering chickens in the backyard. The idea that their food is at stake becomes a huge deal in this house. Being on slop or having a food restriction causes a lot of drama.
Will you ever allow the Power of Veto winner to select the replacement nominee?
Head of Household is what this show is about. If you take the power away from HOH, you make it less special. It just wouldn’t be fair. Winning HOH has to be the biggest thing of each week. If you mess with that person’s nominees, you cut their power in half.
Would you ever consider putting cameras in the jury house?
Big Brother operates out of an elaborately put-together sound stage. It took a long time for our engineers to put together all those cameras. To do that to an average house would mean a whole other set and a huge budget.
Many EW.com readers think you should take the Bible out of the house.
It provides good talking points! It’s given us interesting story to follow. But honestly, we aren’t putting a Bible in the house. The houseguests are allowed to bring in religious readings.
Is it time to get rid of the slop?
No one ever said it can’t happen. I think it’s possible you’ll see some food restrictions being mixed up this summer. The idea of unexpected food restrictions can add some fun to the food competitions.
Have you considered forcing the house guests to use the POV?
I go back and forth on that. I would be concerned if all of a sudden the POV competition would become something people don’t want to win. People wouldn’t want to be put in the spotlight. You’re also fighting for your own safety in the POV competition -- the idea that you won’t be placed on the block. And you’re fighting for the power to make that choice. That’s what we’ve always found so interesting about the veto: not using it can be just as powerful as using it. I’d hate to force someone to do it. As producers, we want to keep our hands off of things. We want to make sure the people in the house get to make as many decisions as possible.
One EW.com reader named Angie suggested that you finally do away with the scripted moments like, say, when the HOH looks at the photo wall and decides who to nominate.
There’s tradition, there’s routine, there’s a ceremony that goes with a few different things in the BB house. They give us a sense of structure and a place to build drama. It’s really about storytelling. BB has been going for 10 [seasons]. We have a format that we like and there are reasons for everything we do.
Big Brother doesn’t have an order beyond this summer, right? Will there be an 11th season?
It’s always been the case with BB that we don’t learn about the following year until after we just finished one. It’s amazing we’ve gone this far. But it’s gone this far because at its core, the basic idea of people in a bubble and the multimedia elements that go with it are still so fresh and exciting. It can continue to grow and evolve as long as we continue to put amazing personalities in that house. So why not?