November 06, 2007 at 12:00 PM EST

Big Brother fans, prepare to celebrate the Writers Guild strike. A reliable source says CBS is quietly ramping up production on a ninth cycle of the reality show to begin airing in late January or early February if the strike persists well into the holidays. It’s easy for CBS to fire up production on BB because it owns the house (which is located on the network’s Studio City, CA lot) and it casts for the show year-round. We hear executive producer Allison Grodner is already hiring production staff and, of course, Julie “Chenbot” Chen would return as host. A CBS spokesperson declined comment.

Like seasons past, the network would probably air the show thrice-weekly, although there’s always the possibility of adding more nights since action occurs around-the-clock in the BB house. Last summer, fans demonstrated their desire to watch even more of the house happenings by tuning into to Big Brother: After Dark on Showtime. It’s unclear whether the nightly feeds will resume with this new cycle, though it seems likely. If the midseason BB does go forward, it is unlikely to affect the regular

summer run of the show.

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