Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Corporation
Host and wife of Les Moonves
CBS President of Entertainment
CBS President of Alternative Programming
Grodner Big Brother Executive Producer for Fly on the Wall
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
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
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
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.
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