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'Big Brother' exec producer talks season 10

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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.

AFTER THE JUMP: “I think it’s possible

you’ll see some food restrictions being mixed up this summer.”

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).

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?

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 believethat’s true?
He says he didn’t. I believe he threw the final stage of the HOHcompetition -– and it was a very smart move to do –- so Ryan would winand he therefore wouldn’t have to vote out Sheila. Adam was a lotsmarter than he appeared. He made a big point during the jurydeliberation of denying that. It was a really bright move, and it wasalso 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. Sometimesit 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 summerand 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).

Whatever happened to Neil, the other gay man who abruptly left the show earlyin the season? Fans never really got a satisfying answer explaining hisdeparture.
The answer remains the same: a family emergency and hehas 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 summeris where it belongs. I’ve always felt that way. it should air once ayear. It was tough to put on a winter season, but if you look at theratings, if you look at the DVR usage, we really weren’t that far offfrom 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 tosubmit suggestions on how to improve the show, so I wanted to run a fewof them by you. Here’s one from a poster named Andy: “Get rid of thefood competitions. They’re pointless. Instead, they need to do luxurycompetitions in which winners get a prize, but the losers get some kindof punishment. This would create more chaos in the house than not beingable to eat regular food for a few days.”
Food competitions give us a time to be silly! They lendcomedy. But I also think the house guests should have to work forsomething since they aren’t growing vegetables or slaughtering chickensin the backyard. The idea that their food is at stake becomes a hugedeal in this house. Being on slop or having a food restriction causes alot 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 takethe power away from HOH, you make it less special. It just wouldn’t befair. Winning HOH has to be the biggest thing of each week. If you messwith 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-togethersound stage. It took a long time for our engineers to put together allthose cameras. To do that to an average house would mean a whole otherset 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 interestingstory 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 possibleyou’ll see some food restrictions being mixed up this summer. The ideaof unexpected food restrictions can add some fun to the foodcompetitions.

Have you considered forcing the house guests to use the POV?
I go back and forth on that. I would be concerned if all ofa sudden the POV competition would become something people don’t wantto win. People wouldn’t want to be put in the spotlight. You’re alsofighting for your own safety in the POV competition — the idea thatyou won’t be placed on the block. And you’re fighting for the power tomake that choice. That’s what we’ve always found so interesting aboutthe veto: not using it can be just as powerful as using it. I’d hate toforce someone to do it. As producers, we want to keep our hands off ofthings. We want to make sure the people in the house get to make asmany decisions as possible.

One EW.com reader named Angie suggested that you finally do awaywith the scripted moments like, say, when the HOH looks at the photowall and decides who to nominate.
There’s tradition, there’s routine, there’s a ceremony thatgoes with a few different things in the BB house. They give us a senseof 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 likeand 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 aboutthe following year until after we just finished one. It’s amazing we’vegone this far. But it’s gone this far because at its core, the basicidea of people in a bubble and the multimedia elements that go with itare still so fresh and exciting. It can continue to grow and evolve aslong as we continue to put amazing personalities in that house. So whynot?

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