'Big Brother' host Julie Chen Moonves teases a winter 'Legends' season

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'Big Brother' host Julie Chen Moonves teases a winter 'Legends' season

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Have you noticed that there is a lot of reality television on the broadcast networks this fall? Dancing With the Stars is back after a stint on Disney+. Survivor and The Amazing Race have both been supersized to 90 minutes. And Big Brother — usually a summer staple — is now extending all the way into November.

Of course, most of that is due to the writers’ and actors’ strikes that brought scripted production to a standstill. And with the SAG-AFTRA walkout still in effect, one has to wonder when original scripted series will be back on the broadcast airwaves. And if networks like CBS don’t have any shows with initials like NCIS, FBI, or CSI to put on the air, what is their plan B?

With that in mind, we asked host Julie Chen Moonves if we might see another winter edition of Celebrity Big Brother. The truncated edition has aired three times since its debut in 2018 — with two of the seasons acting as counter-programming to the Winter Olympics. When we asked CBS back in January if there were any plans for future celebrity editions of the franchise, the network told EW there were none — but that was months before Hollywood shut down.

Julie Chen Moonves on ‘Big Brother’ season 25. Sonja Flemming/CBS

With so much uncertainly still swirling around broadcast schedules in 2024, we asked Chen Moonves about a possible early 2024 celebrity season, and the host told us she had been asking the very same thing. “I have been poking around with the producers asking the same question,” she says. “I think the SAG strike could position Big Brother to be in demand, but they have not made the call yet.”

Chen thinks the show could attract all manner of famous faces, even if a strike is still in effect, noting, “Now we can book the celebrities. This is something that they can participate in, like with Dancing With the Stars. They’re available now and people want to work.”

‘Celebrity Big Brother’ season 2 houseguests Anthony Scramucci, Ricky Williams, Dina Lohan, Jonathan Bennett, Kandi Burruss, and Joey Lawrence. Monty Brinton /CBS

Actors were indeed permitted to appear on the current season of Dancing With the Stars with the union noting in a statement that “Our members appearing on Dancing With the Stars are working under the Network Code agreement, which is a non-struck contract. They are required to go to work, are not in violation of SAG-AFTRA strike rules, and we support them in fulfilling their contractual obligations…. The program is a SAG-AFTRA non-dramatic production under a separate agreement that is not subject to the union’s strike order.”

Even if the union changed its stance or actors would want to steer clear, the show could still attract athletes, musicians, comedians, and other reality stars — who usually comprise the bulk of a Celebrity Big Brother season anyway. But Chen is actually pitching a different kind of shortened winter installment. “I don’t think a celebrity run will happen,” the host says. “But maybe we will have a month’s worth that is special in its own way. Maybe you bring back Legends, for those are the real Big Brother celebrities.”

Taylor Hale, Dan Gheesling, and Rachel Reilly from ‘Big Brother’. Daniel Boczarski/Getty; Frederick M. Brown/Getty;

The concept of a Big Brother Legends season was first floated to EW by none other than season 13 champ Rachel Reilly in June of 2022. “I think the Big Brother fan base would love to see Rachel, Janelle, Danielle Reyes and Vanessa play together,” Reilly told EW then. ” This would be my DREAM COME TRUE!… Maybe we can save that for a ‘best of’ season in the Celebrity Big Brother spot. I think we could all make it happen during a three-week season. Hint… hint, CBS.”

Now, it seems Chen is singing the same tune. “They could play a fast, one-month version,” the host says. “Or maybe we get three months worth starting in January or February. Even if the strike ended right now, nothing’s going to go into production until January, so maybe you do need a month’s worth of Big Brother just to fill.”

With the likely lack of scripted programming at the start of the year, some sort of winter season of Big Brother almost makes too much sense to not happen. And if they can’t entice the likes of Rachel, Dan Gheesling, Taylor Hale, Dr. Will and others to return, Chen Moonves thinks in that case a celebrity edition could indeed work. And if that were to happen, whom would she like to see in the house? “In my unrealistic dream season, it would be Tom Brady, Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian, Snoop Dogg, Martha Stewart — that whole group.”

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