The Ultimate Guide to Big Brother USA!
What is Big Brother USA?
The U.S. version started off in 2000 under the familiar format you have grown to know and love. However, soon after its debut on CBS, it became a colossal flop; some blame it on bad casting, others blame it on a culture clash.
CBS's "other" little reality TV venture, Survivor, at the same time, became a pop cultural phenomenon. Naturally, they decided to mold the second season of Big Brother on it, and so the show constantly referred to as "Survivor...in a house" was born, with new rules, new houseguests, and new surprises.
The show is now in it's eighth season and returns with a brand new set of houseguests after last years "All Stars" edition.
How it works
BBUSA follows a very different format to most other versions, with all voting done by the "houseguests" in a game more about strategy and competitiveness than popularity.
Stands for "Head of Household." The HoH is chosen through a live competition, filmed live after the previous eviction. Due to the short timeframe, it usually consists of an elimination quiz. The outgoing HoH can not compete.
The HoH wins access to the special "HoH" bedroom, featuring a large bed, luxury items, a TV screen linked to several cameras around the house to spy on their fellow houseguests, and of course the power to nominate.
Anyone is allowed into the HoH room and is often used as a place to talk strategy or for potential nominees to plead their case to the HoH regarding the upcoming nominations.
An event hosted by the HoH. In secrecy in the HoH bedroom, the HoH puts keys with each houseguests' name on them into a round box, except for two people, the nominees. For the people the HoH wants to nominate, he/she simply takes their keys, wraps them in a bag and hides them somewhere.
During the nominations ceremony, the HoH pulls out the first key, calls out the name on it, and hands it to the appropriate houseguest, who is now "safe." This houseguest then pulls out another key and the process is continued until there are only two people left without their keys; the nominees. The HoH then explains his/her nominations, and the ceremony comes to a close.
In the U.S., nominations are not concrete. The "veto" competition gives players a chance to alter the nominations. In seasons 3 and 4, all houseguests could play. However, in recent seasons, only the HoH and the two nominees, plus one other houseguest each of their choice (making that 6 people altogether), can participate.
The veto competitions are usually quite creative and fun to watch, not dissimilar to some of BBA's own FNL games. The winner of the veto competition can choose to save one of the nominees, or to not use it at all.
If a nominee is saved, (sometimes referred to as "taken off the block,") the HoH must choose someone to replace them. The nominations are now concrete.
In the U.S., the public does not choose whom to evict; the houseguests do. All houseguests, except for the HoH and the 2 nominees, vote. Whoever has the highest number of votes is revealed by Julie Chen and subsequently evicted! In the event of a tie, the HoH has the casting vote.
Most week's houseguests compete in a food competition. These are usually one-off competitions which take place the morning after eviction, and vary from houseguests competing as one team, competing as two opposing teams, competing as individuals or competing for either food groups or food for a certain day of the week.
If the houseguests lose the food competition they have to survive the next week on "slop".
These only occur occasionally, and as you can probably work out, involve houseguests competing for luxuries, ranging from watching a movie to a shopping spree in the house.
Though there is no viewers vote to determine who is evicted, fans do occasionally get to have some control through the America's Choice vote. Voting via text or the website, typical votes include choosing a houseguest to get a phone call from home or get a trip away from the house, typically to the set of another CBS programme.
The Final HoH:
When three houseguests remain they compete to become the final HoH in a three-part competition. The winner of round one (an endurance based comp), progress to round three, with the other two HGs competing in round two. The winners of rounds one and two then compete in the live final round to become the final HoH and have the power to evict one of the final three HGs.
The final seven evictees are secluded in the "Jury house" and decide the winner of Big Brother. When the final two houseguests remain the Jury gets to question them via satellite link before returning for the live season finale and casting their votes for the winner of Big Brother.
The winner of Big Brother gets $500,000, with the runner-up getting $50,000.
Differences to Big Brother Australia/Big Brother UK
Here is a list of just some of the differences you will notice:
With the controlled amount of players eligible to compete in the veto competition, a "backdoor" strategy has arisen in recent seasons. The HoH strategically nominates 2 members he/she doesn't really want evicted (perhaps even members of his/her own alliance!) to act as "pawns." They then choose their allies to compete in the veto competition, use the veto, and then the HoH replaces them with the person they really do want evicted! This gives them no chance to compete for the veto and thus they can't "get themselves off the hook," guaranteeing them to be evicted.
This type of strategy tends to create enormous divisions in the house, such as BB6's "Sovereigns" versus the "Friendship." The Friendship often engaged in delusional rants as to how much America loves them, when in fact they were some of the most hated houseguests in the history of the show, whereas the Sovereigns were some of the most loved. This division, with its amusing drunken verbal slag matches between both sides, however, made for compelling viewing.
On the flipside, there have been some awful strategic moves. The most amusing would have to be in season 3, when a nominated houseguest won the veto, but chose not to use it.... He was evicted that night.
Due to strict US broadcasting rules you won't even see a naked bottom on the network shows, though nudity isn't completely blocked out of the live internet feeds.
However, this year there is a new show from Big Brother USA which airs on cable channel ShoToo. Every night Big Brother: After Dark will offer three hours of live streaming, complete with nudity and profanity, covering events from 9pm to midnight in the house. (Due to the time difference between LA and the East Coast, the show will begin at midnight)
CBS refers to their participants as "houseguests." A popular, but unofficial name comes in the form of "hamsters."
Typically houseguests are Hollywood wannabes, all hoping that being on Big Brother will be the first step on the road to stardom! There are always houseguests though that are there to play the game and willing to do almost anything to win!
Julie Chen, sometimes referred to as "The Chenbot" for her robot-like auto-cue delivery, hosts Big Brother U.S.
Julie Chen hosts the live shows from a small studio in front of the Big Brother house. There is no live audience, except for finale night.
The show's approach
The show is edited in a very similar way to most US reality shows, filled with short segments cutting away to interviews with the houseguests (in the diary room) and using regular flash backs to illustrate stories. There is no narrator except for at the beginning and end of each show.
Focus on the diary room
The diary room is used as a tool to narrate the show, with clips of houseguests describing what they had to do in competitions and their own strategies mixed in with footage of the competitions.
The voice of Big Brother
The voice of Big Brother is hardly ever heard in the edited shows, with host Julie Chen or the weekly HoH fronting any competitions.
Big Brother can be heard on the live feeds however, though the houseguests tend to refer to the producers by name rather than "Big Brother". Big Brother also acts as a director during the competitions and ceremonies, often asking houseguests to repeat the reading of rules for example, in order to get a decent cut for the show.
Unlike other versions of Big Brother, the BBUSA house keeps virtually the same layout every season - but does get redecorated each year.
Two years ago the show moved to a new two storey house - and while the basic layout remained very similar, the second storey allowed for a much bigger HoH suite, complete with private bathroom.
There is usually an open plan living/dining/kitchen area, three small bedrooms for just four or five houseguests, a gym, bathroom, the HoH suite and a backyard complete with pool and hot tub. The houseguests also get a washing machine and dryer.
Competitions usually take place in the backyard, while luxuries such as the hot tub and gym have to be won.
The core format remains virtually the same every week, with the only twist to regular proceedings being a "double eviction week", with a HoH comp, nominations, Veto comp and eviction taking place in just 48 hours before a new HoH comes into power and the process begins again.
The main twists in recent years have come from the casting. In BB4 just eight houseguests moved in originally, shortly followed by five of their ex's in a twist called "The X Factor".
BB5 was dubbed "Project DNA", with two houseguests - Nakomis and Cowboy - discovering they shared the same father and a pair of identical twins secretly switching places in the house for five weeks.
BB6 was the Summer of Secrets, with seven pairs of houseguests competing. Each pair believed they were the only pair in the house, but in fact soon discovered that every houseguest was paired up. If any pair reached the final two the jackpot would double to $1m, with the runner up getting $250,000.
BB7 was "All Stars", with fourteen former houseguests, chosen by viewers and producers, returning for another chance to play the game. This season did see a couple of twists which could have changed the game, beginning with a "Double HoH" where two houseguests won the position in week one, but if they couldn't agree on nominations they would be up for eviction instead.
The other main twist last year was the Coup d'Etat which gave one houseguest the power to overthrow the HoH and replace their nominees with two of their own for a period of three weeks. This power was never used.
The main change each season has been with the Veto. When introduced in BB3, all houseguests competed for the Veto but nominees couldn't use it to save themselves from eviction.
The final Veto challenge of BB3 saw the HGs compete for the "Golden Power of Veto", enabling a nominee to save themselves, with Marcellas famously not using it on himself and subsequently being evicted.
All Veto challenges from BB4 have been "Golden Power of Veto" competitions, but since BB5 the competitions were restricted to six players - the HoH, two nominees and partners of their choice.
In BB6 there was a slight change that meant in some competitions none of the houseguests would win the Veto - but in practice this never happened.
In BB7 rather than selecting their partners, the three Veto players who would compete alongside the nominees and HoH were chosen at random.
Big Brother 8 premieres on Thursday 5 July which will include the revealing of this years houseguests and action from their first couple of days in the house, including the first Head of Household competition.
The show then airs three nights a week in hour-long slots:
This show features the weekly food competition and nominations
The Tuesday show features the Veto competition and Veto Ceremony
Thursday - LIVE EVICTION:
Julie Chen hosts the live eviction show, which also includes the live HoH competition.
Often later in the season shows are dropped to just two a week, and in the final couple of weeks evictions take place in every episode. There are usually around 30 shows per season.
In addition, every weekday an internet discussion show, Big Brother: Housecalls, airs at cbs.com (usually at 1pm ET) while this year cable channel ShoToo will be screening three hours of uninterupted live streaming from the house every night in Big Brother: After Dark.
The official website - http://www.cbs.com/bigbrother - is only updated after each episode, offering an episode guide, profiles of the houseguests and a few additional features, such as a weekly HoH blog. Voting for America's Choice is also done via the website - and isn't restricted to Americans!
Viewers can subscribe to the live feeds at the official website - http://www.cbs.com/bigbrother . Big Brother USA is actually one of the few versions that continues to offer multiple feeds, with up to four live feeds available.
However, it should be noted that alot of the time at least two of the feeds are screening the same stream, while events such as Veto competitons, nominations and the Veto ceremonies are usually not shown on the live feed, resulting in significant periods of times when the feeds just show live coverage of the BB fish tank!
It is slightly easier to keep track of BBUSA though with just three 43-minute episodes a week.
Big Brother USA isn't for everyone. It is very different to most versions of Big Brother and at first, may seem quite strange and in fact just wrong!
However, judge the show on it's own merits and in time you might find yourself with yet another Big Brother to keep track of! It really is so much more than "Survivor in a house".
Nyt aion ainakin yrittää katsoa tätä ihan eri asenteella, lähinnä Survivorin korvikkeena. Chenbot on kyllä silti kammottava juontaja, siitä ei pääse mihinkään.
Variety kirjoitti: Big Brother 8 announces cast
CBS is making "Big Brother 8" more interactive than past editions, plotting a twist in which one of the game's players will be controlled by the whims of the American public.
Net's annual summer sudser, which kicks off July 5 at 8 p.m., has also locked in its cast. It'll once again be a young bunch, with most of the 14 players in their 20s-- and the oldest contestant just 44.
And, in a nod to a past "Big Brother" theme in which players were surprised to find out that their ex-flames had been recruited, this year's cast will include a few pairs of players with unresolved beefs.
The biggest twist, however, is a game element called "America's Player." In a nutshell, that contestant will have the chance to win extra sums of money-- but only if they carry out certain actions mandated by viewers via internet or text message voting. Chosen player might be asked to vote somebody out of the house or something more personal, such as flirting with another player. Eye is hoping the twist will give viewers more of a stake in the outcome of the game, in the same way auds who watch "American Idol" get to shape that competition.
Theme for this year's "Brother" house is "Alice in Wonderland," with a number of eclectic touches throughout the pad (think really big beds and tiny chairs).
CBS has high hopes for this year's edition of "Brother," the Allison Grodner and Endemol USA- produced skein that has be-come a summer staple for the net. Its perf is particularly important this year since the net is launching a new fall lineup marked by some particularly ambitious, younger-skewing skeins-- some of which will no doubt be hyped endlessly during "Brother's" run.
That appeal to youth is evident in the makeup of this year's cast. Half are under the age of 25, with one player below the age of 21. Four players hail from the Los Angeles area, and there are no less than three players who work at a restaurant or bar.
And this year's contestants are:
Huntington Beach, Calif.
D ick, 44
Talent Management Assistant
Beverly Hills, Calif.
McKenzie Bridge, Ore.
Three Lakes, Wis.
Former Pro Football Player
The two-level house has had an extreme makeover with bright new colors and a lot of optical illusions.
This comfy couch will come in handy for a game of chess or to make a strategic plan to win that half-million-dollar prize.
Claustrophobia alert! This two-sizes-too-small room has five beds that are only 5 feet long and is filled with low-to-the-ground child-size chairs 'Essentially [they'll be] living in a dollhouse,' says Grodner.
The backyard has the same basic layout, with a hot tub, pool, hammock and exercise equipment to keep the houseguests happy. We can't wait for the July 5 premiere to see what the house looks like with people in it!
Lisää kuvia täältä
Jaake kirjoitti:On kyllä jälleen kerran todella hieno talo.
Kaksikerroksinen BB-talo on jotain uutta minun silmilleni mutta erittäin hieno tuo on. Jälleen kerran suomen BB-talolla on aihetta vaikuttaa vielä hieman huonommalta kuin se onkaan. Jos millään jaksaisin niin voisin jopa harkita jokusen jakson USA-BB:tä katsovani mutta saattaa jäädä ajatukseksi. No, katsotaan nyt ensin mitä muut tuosta kauden alusta aikanaan ajattelevat.
Big Brother has her under a watchful eye
"When The Early Show news anchor Julie Chen began hosting CBS' Big Brother eight summers ago, critics chastized her and the network for blurring the lines between news and entertainment by having a journalist host the show.
It was no fun, says Chen, 37, who had never been the subject of any big news articles. "People were writing that I was horrible in the job, and there was all this talk about 'blurring the line' and 'What's happening to journalism?' "
Eight years later, news and entertainment have survived, Brother remains a solid CBS hit, and the criticism has all but evaporated.
As for those lines, Chen says they're as blurry as ever, led by increasingly opinionated cable news anchors. "When I was in journalism school, you were taught to be completely objective," she says. "But we don't see that anymore."
Chen begins another season with Big Brother (8 ET/PT) Thursday, and the show will air Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays through summer. For the first time, CBS is partnering with sister cable channel Showtime to offer a three-hour "Live Nightly Action" look inside the Big Brother 8 house from midnight to 3 a.m.
Chen hosts the Thursday live elimination. The other two editions are strictly devoted to tape of what goes on in the house.
Brother follows 14 people living in a house outfitted with cameras and microphones that record their every move. One by one, houseguests vote one another out. After three months, whoever is left wins $500,000.
"It's a real live Melrose Place," she says. "It takes you back to junior high - very catty, very cliquey. You can relate to at least one person in the house, see the cool kids try to bully the misfits and watch the misfits outsmart the bullies. You love to hate certain people."
Ever since the criticism of the first year, Chen says she has played her role as straight as possible, displaying no emotion, for example, toward eliminated contestants she might personally dislike. It earned her the nickname "Chen-bot" from the website tvgasm.com.
Chen was initially put off by her Internet moniker. "Then I thought, 'I am the Chen-bot, and I have to embrace my inner Chen-bot.' " She now sends gifts to the Brother crew from "the Chen-bot." "
EXEC GRODNER LOOKS FORWARD TO GETTING INTERACTIVE
When it comes to the 'America's Player' twist, 'Big Brother' executive producer Allison Grodner is making a heart-felt apology to Canadian fans of the Global Television - CBS summer reality show.
"We didn't mean to offend Canadians. This is really everybody's player," Grodner told GlobalTV.com as she continued to supervise the live happenings from the secluded 'Big Brother' house in California.
Selected by the producers during the casting of 'Big Brother 8', 'America's Player' will have their actions in the house and in the game controlled by the audience through a poll at the end of every episode. Both Canadian and American viewers will be able to cast their ballots via their cell phones or the 'Big Brother 8' site at CBS.com (a link can be found on GlobalTV.com's Big Brother 8 homepage).
"My guess is that the Internet will be the way that people in Canada can have their say. We are certainly not trying to exclude any of our viewers so we will call this...the 'Canadian-American Player'," said Grodner chuckling.
While two of the weekly polls will be strategic in nature -- asking viewers who the 'America's Player' should target for a nomination and whom they should vote to evict -- the third poll on Sunday's show will be for fun. For that poll, viewers might be asked who 'America's Player' should start a showmance with or who they should have a meaningful conversation with. If the player makes it to the final seven, the viewers will also have a vote on the 'Big Brother 8' jury.
"The viewers will have a vote every week so that's a big deal. It is the most interactive we have ever been," commented Grodner.
For every five tasks the 'America's Player' completes, they will get a cash bonus. While the other HouseGuests won't know about the 'America's Player' twist until that person is voted out or wins the game, their identity will be revealed to the audience on the debut of 'Big Brother 8' this Thursday night.
"We are really happy with whom this is. We think this person will do a terrific job," said Grodner.
Having to produce three episodes a week means that Grodner has to get a jump on the action. To do so each year, the players have to enter the house and the 'Big Brother' game must begin before the television debut. It may surprise some viewers to discover that the 'Big Brother 8' HouseGuests are already battling for the $500,000 U.S. grand prize.
"Believe it or not, but in television time, our HouseGuests may not be in the house but here, they are already in the house. The game has begun. The game is on," said an excited Grodner who has added responsibility this year since former producer Arnold Shapiro opted not to return. "This show is always stressful. I have to say that no matter what, it is a ton of work. I don't think people out there really can appreciate what it is to put three almost live shows on the air, every week, all summer long and to have these people go live to the Internet 24/7."
In speaking to GlobalTV.com, Grodner was quick to clear up another misconception: Not everyone in the house will be a part of the "rival or enemy" twist. The twist of having to deal with a real life foe in the house will only apply to some of the players.
"There are past relationships that will surprise some of them on opening night. Not all of them will have a past relationship but some of them will and nobody knows any of this when they walk into the house. We will see how this plays out as this is like the 'X Factor' from four years ago," she explained. "You know the old saying...Keep your friends close and your enemies closer? Well, let's see how that plays out this summer. "Expect the Unexpected" doesn't just go for the audience, it goes for us, the producers, too."
Promising there are more twists to come this season, Grodner gave GlobalTV.com a rundown of some of the standout players thus far.
Joe: "He is terrifically funny and very, very bright. He is a good gameplayer because he is a student of the show. He is incredibly manipulative."
Jemeka: "She has been very isolated, actually. She is from a part of Maryland where she has not been exposed to white people. She really hasn't had any white friends and now she is in a house full of white people. It should be interesting. She is funny and gutsy. She will be really fun to watch."
Nick: "Nick is the hunk of the house for sure. He is a former football player and walks around with his shirt off all the time. I am watching him on the live feeds right now. Wow! The girls are sure to enjoy him. He is not your typical California or Florida dude. He is from Minnesota so he has an accent like y'all do up there. It is adorable."
Kail: "We have a mom who is a business owner from a small town in Oregon. Her values are definitely more conservative than a lot of the people who usually go into the 'Big Brother' house."
D ick: "D ick is a rocker dad. He was a stand-in for Keith Richards in the last 'Pirates' movie. He's got lots of tats and piercings. You are going to think that Tommy Lee just walked into the house. That will be a shock for the HouseGuests."
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