Days after husband Les Moonves resigned in disgrace from CBS over sexual assault and harassment allegations, Julie Chen returned to TV Thursday on “Big Brother.” Veuer’s Nick Cardona reports on what she said.
Spoiler alert! This story contains details from the Aug. 5 premiere of “Big Brother: All-Stars”
“Big Brother” is back and shaping up for a very special season.
Though the long-running reality competition had to postpone its June premiere because of the coronavirus pandemic, CBS excited fans in July when it announced that “Big Brother” would go on this year, with thorough health and safety protocols.
The announcement also brought news “Big Brother” fans have been waiting for: This season will feature an entire cast of all-star players for the first time since 2006.
The 22nd season kicked off Wednesday in a live two-hour premiere that saw the highly anticipated cast revealed, a cutthroat competition and a twist not even the show’s most experienced players could see coming.
Here is everything that went down:
Da’Vonne Rogers competes on the premiere of “Big Brother: All-Stars.” (Photo: Best Possible Screen Grab, CBS)
All-stars return with something to prove
When CBS announced “Big Brother: All-Stars,” the network promised a cast of winners, finalists and memorable personalities.
So who are they?
At the top of the show, the first four cast members were revealed: Season 16 contestant and Season 18 winner Nicole Franzel; Season 8 runner-up and Season 13 contestant Daniele Briones; Season 17 and 18 contestant Da’Vonne Rogers; and Season 19 contestant Christmas Abbott.
And, based on their pre-recorded intro segments, it’s clear all four of them have something to prove.
Christmas, for instance, broke her leg on Day 13 of her season. As a result, the fitness entrepreneur had to throw out her strategy of winning competitions in favor of a socially savvy game. She made it to third place.
“I was a fraction of myself the entire time, and so I want to come in and show them full-throttle Christmas,” she says.
Daniele, who boasts a record number of Power of Veto wins, plans to have a more social and strategic game this time. “I think that I deserved to win before, and I’m gonna win this time,” says the stay-at-home mom, who finished second to her estranged father, Dick Donato, the first time she competed.
Former poker dealer Da’Vonne, meanwhile, promises to use her intuition to her advantage. “Mama Da’s not here, but Da? Oh, she came to play,” she says.
Nicole F. wants to prove to “Big Brother” fans that she deserved her Season 18 win, even though many argue the better player was runner-up Paul Abrahamian. “I’m not really sure why people think Paul was robbed, but he was not robbed,” she quips.
Then, these first four houseguests kicked off Part one of the two-part Head of Household competition.
Host Julie Chen Moonves explained the rules to the women, who stood 12 feet away from her and wore face masks. For this part of the competition, contestants enter the house in their groups of four and search for a specific object. Once they find it, they are to run to the back yard and roll a ball through a maze so that it lands under the name of the room where the object was located. (It wouldn’t be “Big Brother” without a convoluted, high-stakes competition, right?)
Christmas proved she came to play, smoking the others and moving on for the second part of the HOH battle.
The next round of players to enter the house were Season 20 runner-up Tyler Crispen; Season 14 winner Ian Terry; Season 11 contestant Kevin Campbell; and Season 12 contestant Enzo “Meow Meow” Palumbo.
The four men plan to improve on past game play. “I can’t rely on my dumb surfer dude act,” Tyler says. Enzo regrets “getting to the end with two dudes that were just better than me, physically.” Ian says he’s here to show he’s “not a kid anymore,” and Kevin is prepared to “snatch a crown” this season.
Ian and Kevin ended up moving on to the second part of the HOH comp.
The next round of contestants brought three-time “Big Brother” player Janelle Pierzina, who finished in third place on Season 6 as well as on the first “All-Stars”; Season 20 contestant Bayleigh Dayton; Season 21 contestant Nicole Anthony; and Season 10 contestant Keesha Smith.
“I’m one of the best players to have ever played who has never won,” says Janelle, who holds the record for most competition wins in a single season. The 40-year-old real estate agent added that she wants to prove you can be a great “Big Brother” player no matter your age.
Bayleigh fell hard for fellow contestant Chris “Swaggy C” Williams, whom she ended up marrying outside of the house. Now that she’s back, she wants to keep her attention on the game — not a showmance.
Nicole A., who was voted America’s Favorite Player by fans last season, reflected on the self-reliance she gained the last time she was in the “Big Brother” house. “I was forced to make decisions on my own and it strengthens you a lot as a person,” she says, adding that this season she plans to trust her gut.
Keesha, who was voted America’s Favorite Player on her season, plans to make bolder moves and not trust people so easily. “I wouldn’t have been so trusting of people, because ultimately that’s what got me kicked off at the end,” she says.
After a nail-biter of a competition, Nicole A. moved on to the next round for HOH.
The last group of four to enter the game were fan-favorite Kaysar Ridha from Season 6 and 2006’s “All-Stars”; Season 16 runner-up Cody Calafiore; Season 10 runner-up Memphis Garrett; and Season 21 contestant David Alexander.
Memphis and Cody were each one-half of famous duos on their respective seasons. Though they both finished second to their allies, this time they each want to claim that $500,000 grand prize for themselves.
Kaysar says he wants to go far this season, despite never making it to the jury house, and David wants to show America that he’s a tough competitor, after getting eliminated immediately during an opening night twist on his first season.
Memphis and Cody secured their places in the first part of the HOH competition.
The first HOH is crowned and first punishments doled out
The six finalists – Memphis, Cody, Christmas, Ian, Kevin and Nicole A. – then stepped up for the next part of the battle. This time, they had to race across a field of raised circular platforms. The catch is that some are stable, while others aren’t. Each time competitors fall, they have to start over. The person who finishes the course in the shortest amount of time wins.
Breezing across the platforms in 22 seconds, Cody became the first HOH.
In a private diary room session, he told Chen Moonves the intimidating all-star cast motivated him.
“I’d rather hold the fate in my hands this week,” he tells her.
But that’s not all.
The five losers had to draw envelopes at random. Christmas’ envelope contained a $5,000 prize. The others’ said they are this week’s Have-Nots, meaning they can only eat slop and have to sleep in the dreaded Have-Not room.
Technical difficulties keep Have-Not room locked
But what exactly does the Have-Not room look like this year? Technical difficulties made getting a look difficult.
When the five Have-Nots went upstairs to unveil their living quarters, Chen Moonves instructed them to crawl through a small door to enter the room. That door, however, wouldn’t open.
Nicole A. kept asking if the door was “a slide or a push” while fumbling against it. Chen Moonves tried to cover up the awkward moment with banter, but the door still wasn’t opening as the live broadcast continued to play out. “Still locked,” Ian told the host.
Chen Moonves ended up seguing to a commercial, giving TV viewers a peek.
And, of course, there’s a twist
There’s a reason the “Big Brother” motto is “Expect the unexpected.”
After the HOH was crowned and the Have-Nots named, Chen Moonves ended the show by teasing this season’s first twist.
“It wouldn’t be premiere night without some kind of surprise,” she told the contestants. “Throughout the summer, new rooms in the house will be revealed to you, and each room will twist up this game like never before. The first room to be revealed to you will be the Safety Suite. Soon, each of you will be given a VIP pass to the Safety Suite. So, what exactly is this mysterious room, and how exactly does this whole VIP pass thing work? You’ll all find out soon enough. Goodnight, and welcome back everyone!”
Maybe fans will find out more about this twist on the next episode Sunday (check local listings).
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