Big Brother returns with an ex-y new twist.

By Lynette Rice
Updated July 11, 2003 at 12:00 PM EDT

Big Brother

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First, the bad news: The flames of love between Big Brother 3 winner Lisa and her smoldering fireman, Eric, were extinguished almost as quickly as they ignited. Now the good news: Producers will heat up the action again when BB4 debuts July 8 on CBS, as four of the nine housemates will learn during the first hour of the show that their ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends are moving in too.

”I would say this was the most challenging casting experience [executive producer] Allison Grodner and I ever had,” admits exec producer Arnold Shapiro, who worked hard to ensure that no contestant knew their former mate was auditioning for BB4. ”In certain cases, we found exes who weren’t appropriate for the show. They have to be good players.”

One other Big change: The final seven evicted houseguests, who later vote on the winner, will no longer be able to watch their roomies’ private diary-room rants or the key strategizing moments between participants once they leave the house. (Shapiro thinks BB3’s runner-up, Danielle, lost her shot at winning when her machinations came to light.) ”It’s important that people feel they can be as candid as possible in the diary room,” says Grodner. ”We want to give them that freedom.”

One stunt that’s been vetoed: having booted housemates return later to ”shake things up.” Still, teases Grodner, ”They’ll never know whether another ex will come into the house!” To quote BB2’s Monica, it’s ON!

Here is EW’s exclusive first look at nine BB4 houseguests, who were whittled down from more than 5,000 applicants. (The four exes will be revealed July 8.) No boring married types here, folks — it’s hotties all the way:

*Nathan Marlow 23, a personal trainer from Edmond, Okla.

*Alison Irwin 22, a retail manager from Meadville, Pa.

*Brandon Showalter 28, a computer engineer from Newport Beach, Calif.

*Dana Varela 28, a karate-school manager from Queens

*David Lane 21, a former army ranger from Deerfield Beach, Fla.

*Erika Landin 33, a pilates instructor from Los Angeles

*Jack Owens Jr. 58, a retired FBI agent from Birmingham, Ala.

*Jun Song 27, an investment manager from Manhattan

*Scott Weintraub 33, a waiter from Chicago

Episode Recaps

Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

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