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  • Starts in February!
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  • Can 15 people redefine civilization, or is that too much to ask for from reality TV?
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Will Big Brother 16 Have a New Vibe?
Who's Who at CBS   
 
Les Moonves
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Corporation
 
 
Julie Chen
Host and wife of Les Moonves
 
 
Nina Tassler
CBS President of Entertainment
 
 
Chris Castallo
CBS President of Alternative Programming
 
 
Allison Grodner
Big Brother Executive Producer for Fly on the Wall Productions
 
 
Robyn Kass
Casting director Big Brother and various other programs.
 

Will Big Brother 16 Have a New Vibe? After all the controversy over the outrageous and offensive behavior of of the BB15 cast, will CBS try to give the show a more family friendly vibe? Who are the CBS executives calling the shots?

Last season's Big Brother opened with 6.5 million viewers, down from season 14's 7.18 million debut. After Aaryn Gries made racial remarks during a squabble with Candice Stewart and other HGs started behaving badly, the ratings started to climb, eventually reaching a high of 7.26 million viewers. It looks like controversy equals ratings, so would CBS want a group of nice warm friendly housemates, or a bunch of combative, racist, homophobic, loud-mouths?

Casting director Robyn Kass and executive producer Allison Grodner, have said that Aaryn Gries was cast as the cute blonde, innocent, girl next-door, and that there were no signs that Gries would turn out to be the center of a racial controversy that would put Big Brother 15 into international headlines.

Who is really making the decisions at Big Brother? Fans and critics of BB give the credit and the blame to EP Allison Grodner, who, with former EP Arnold Shapiro, re-vamped the show's format after the first season. However, Julie Chen is not only the host of Big Brother, but a huge fan of the show, and the wife of Les Moonves, who is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Corporation.

I always thought Grodner and Kass made the final decision as to who becomes a houseguest on Big Brother, until BB14. The cast was selected by the Kass and the producers, and then we heard "CBS" looked at the cast felt the group wasn't strong enough to deliver an audience. At the last minute CBS asked for some former "stars" to be added to the cast. To accommodate the demands of the un-named super powers at CBS, four former houseguests from past seasons of Big Brother returned to coach the new houseguests.

At the time Jennifer Bresnan was the President of Alternative Programming (non-scripted and reality TV shows). Last August during Big Brother's big brouhaha, Bresnan announced that she was stepping down. Fans wrote that CBS was letting her go because of Big Brother, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Jennifer Bresnan's departure was planned before the summer because Bresnan wanted to relocate to New York, where Bresnan's husband, CBS COO Joe Ianniello, and family live. Bresnan's production company, has just sold a new talent competition series to CBS called, In the Spotlight. She remains a consultant to CBS.

Bresnan's replacement at CBS is Chris Castallo. Castallo leads the network's development of new alternative shows, whether they are game shows, reality or non-scripted, as well as overseeing the network's current slate of veteran fare, including Survivor, The Amazing Race and Big Brother. Castallo reports to entertainment president Nina Tassler. Castallo was Executive Senior Vice President of the division under Jennifer Bresnan since 2007.

CBS is the second broadcast networks to be changing alternative heads in what are challenging times for broadcast unscripted programming. The genre has largely struggled to produce a new hit the past couple of years (since Undercover Boss and NBC’s The Voice), while cable networks have had success with mega hits like Jersey Shore and Duck Dynasty.

Mitch Graham is just under Castallo, with the title: "VP of Alternative Programming, CBS Entertainment." Graham is also involved in the development of new alternative programming. Most recently, Graham spearheaded the Network publicity campaign on behalf of the summer hit Under the Dome and was the publicist on the nine-time Emmy Award-winning The Amazing Race since its seventh season.

During the Big Brother season 15 excitement, TMZ interviewed Moonves and Chen as they were leaving a restaurant, Moonves appeared to be annoyed when asked for a comment about the Big Brother situation. It's impossible to know the cause of Moonves' sour look; maybe he had a bad meal, maybe he just doesn't like being ambushed by reporters. It has been long rumored that Moonves feels that Julie Chen's association with the show is beneath her stature as a journalist and the wife of the CEO of CBS.

If Moonves is unhappy with Big Brother's reputation, he definitely has the power to change it. But Moonves answers to the Board of Directors, stock holders, and Sumner Redstone (Redstone and his family are majority owners of CBS Corporation and Viacom). What's more important, ratings or reputation?

Should CBS try to screen out the bigots, homophobes and people that are otherwise not PC? IMHO, No. I have always felt that one of the purposes of Big Brother is to show real people from different backgrounds being real, not a homogenized Brady Bunch family. Although I don't feel they should be casting strictly to create conflicts, when people with differing values and beliefs get together, there will be conflicts. It may seem disturbing to watch, but that can happen if you examine at real life so closely. For parents, this gives them an opportunity to talk to their kids about bullying, conflict resolution and their values.

Posted on 20 Feb 2014 by morty

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