‘Big Brother’ Producers Allison Grodner and Rich Meehan Tease All-Newbie Season With Team Twist and ‘High Stakes’ Offers ‘Too Good to Refuse’

Big Brother 23
 CBS

An offer they can’t refuse. That’s what’s in store for the Big Brother houseguests this summer for the upcoming 23rd season of the CBS reality competition series.

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Longtime executive producers Allison Grodner and Rich Meehan spoke exclusively with Us Weekly about the “beach club” theme of the house and how they’re “leaning into” the idea of “risk versus reward” this year. Houseguests will be getting offers “too good to refuse” in what they are calling a “Monte Carlo meets beach club” kind of gambling style.

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For the live move-in premiere on Wednesday, July 7, players will be “battling to be a team captain” and “starting off this game playing in teams.” And at the end of the 90 minutes, host Julie Chen will be presenting “an offer that might be, or is most likely, too good to refuse,” Grodner explains.

This season is expected to be “pretty comparable to previous seasons” and “what we’ve done in the past,” Rich tells Us, after last summer’s all-star edition that was shortened quite a bit due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Scroll down to read more of what the BB producers told Us about season 23, including the length, COVID precautions and more!

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Us Weekly: What can you tell us about the theme this summer?

Grodner: The overall theme is the “Big Brother beach club.” This comes from all of us having been locked in our homes for the past year, like Big Brother houseguests. Everyone’s longing for vacations, to get out there and so forth. So we really wanted to bring a sense of adventure and vacation fun and a club atmosphere to the house. So it’s got this casino meets beach, Monte Carlo meets beach club meets Vegas, kind of feel to it. And it’s aspirational. It’s fun. It’s for our houseguests to go on vacation for the summer.

Meehan: There’s always risks inherent in the Big Brother game, from who you’re aligning with to who you’re betraying. All the inherent risk of playing Big Brother. So we’re kind of ramping that up this summer and really leaning into the risk versus reward dilemmas. So houseguests are going to be faced with decisions that they’ve never really had to make in the game before, which should be pretty exciting to watch.

Us: What about the twists? What can you tease?

Meehan: We can tell you a little bit. Opening night, we’re all live again. So it’s going to be an all-live premiere, so anything can happen. It’s going to be all new players this summer playing the Big Brother game. So no returning house guests playing the game this summer. It’s going to be all new houseguests, which is fun. And then the other big thing, on opening night they’re going to learn that they’re going to be starting off this game playing in teams. So on move-in night, they’re going to be battling to be a team captain, as well as vying for the ability to play Head of Household.

Grodner: And for the second season in a row, we are all live for the premiere. So anything can happen. It’s fun. You hit the ground running and the live TV is fun. You’re flying by the seat of your pants a bit. And as you saw last year, things like a door being locked are possible, accidentally. We hope that doesn’t happen again, but you never know.

Us: In terms of twists, are you more into the casting twists or the game twists?

Grodner: Honestly, we love both. Casting twists, we’ve had some amazing ones over the seasons, but we always have game twists. That’s really important because, as we’ve been on the air as long as we have, we have a lot of fans and people coming into the house expecting certain things that happen on Big Brother, and we have to keep everyone on their toes. So game twists will always happen. Casting twists will happen every once in a while, but not always. We certainly also don’t want people to get used to that as well.

Meehan: The goal for both of those types of twists is that they just force the houseguests to think about and play the game possibly in different ways, or add a curve ball to their thinking. And sometimes it can be through a casting twist and sometimes that can be through a game twist. But we definitely like having the game twists in there because we air three episodes a week and it gives fun new content for the different shows each week when we have game twists in there.

Us: The triple eviction was a new one last summer. Possible we may see that again?

Grodner: Oh, we loved it. It was certainly a surprise for everyone and a very different feel than our usual double eviction. So there’s definitely a chance this could happen again.

Us: Will the live feeds turn on sooner as they did last year?

Grodner: I think we’re following the same schedule.

Meehan: Yeah, I believe the plan is the live feeds will be on the evening after the premiere.

Us: In terms of COVID precautions, what does it look like this year in comparison to last year, or just in general?

Meehan: We’re pretty much operating under the same safety guidelines as last year. The houseguests’ safety, as well as our staff and crew’s safety is the most important thing. So we’re going to be acting under very similar procedures as last summer.

Us: Do houseguests have to be vaccinated to enter the house? Or are they going to get regularly tested again?

Grodner: We’re certainly following testing and we’ll defer any of those questions to CBS as far as vaccination requirements.

Us: Will there be a studio audience this summer?

Grodner: The season will definitely start without, but we felt like with the new set and everything, we are happy to continue this for safety purposes. But as things loosen up and all of that, there’s always that option. And maybe it’s more about a finale that includes an audience. We will see how things go and where the summer takes us in terms of protocol.

Us: In terms of days, what are we looking at? Will it be like a normal season?

Meehan: I think it’s pretty comparable to previous seasons. It’s in the realm of what we’ve done in the past.

Us: You guys have been doing this show for a long time and obviously Big Brother fans are very passionate. How much of the feedback do you read on social media and how much of it do you try to actively avoid?

Grodner: We do have amazing fans, honestly. This is a show that, especially with the live feeds and everything, that we have that core group. And they’re a huge part of our success. So we absolutely appreciate them. They always have opinions and we understand that. But honestly, you can’t produce a show driven by social media and Twitter. We strive to produce the best show possible, and at some point also take into account how the audience is reacting. So it’s not just shutting them out, but you know, there is a balance for sure.

Meehan: The houseguests are in there playing a game for a prize. So ultimately, fairness is the most important thing for our houseguests as they’re in there playing the game. And people are liked and people are not liked. Some people have tons of fans, some people don’t have as many fans, but ultimately they’re all in there playing the game. So once they’re in the house, it’s really up to the houseguests to do what they need to do to win. Or not win the game.

Us: In terms of casting and your involvement, what do you look for and is it different than what you looked for maybe 10 years ago?

Grodner: Interesting. We’re always looking for a diverse group of people to put in this house, diverse in personality, backgrounds, where they’re from, everything. It’s always interesting. We do strive to put together a different mix each year, you know? I feel comfortable in saying we’ve just locked the cast, over the past couple of weeks, and it’s an amazing group of people and it feels different from any other year. But, I would say that pretty much every year, to be honest, because we do strive to do that, to make sure. And I think this year we have even more so.

Us: How do you guys mitigate game interference? I know we have at least one wall yeller a season.

Grodner: I would hope that the fans would take into consideration what these people have given up to be on the show and how hard they’re working, and that they came on to put themselves out there for a whole summer and to win money. We want it to be as fair as possible and so any time there is any attempted outside interference, it could potentially ruin people’s games and create unfairness within the house, no matter how much you may like or dislike that person. I would hope that before any fan decides to try to take that on, that they would think about that, if they were in that position, and what they would want.

Meehan: Yeah, this has been going on since the beginning of the show. From banner planes in season 2, so it’s just kind of a part of the show. But, we work hard to try to keep the integrity of the game there and try and keep the outside information outside.

Us: The show has been on for 20 years. How much longer do you see the series airing? Are we staying around a while? 

Grodner: Well, we hope so. We are really lucky to have been on the air this long. I mean, going into season 23, and then you add in the celebrity seasons and the OTT season, it’s 26 versions of this show that we’ve produced over the years. And it’s amazing. It’s amazing how it has held up all this time. And we’ve always felt that in certain ways we’re ahead of the curve, you know, when it comes to technology, certainly. We’re the first show to stream live and still are, I think one of the only shows to do so. Honestly, social media and that kind of involvement, the people that can talk online about the show 24/7 … I mean, that’s something that we didn’t have at the beginning, but it’s such an important part of the show now. So, we hope that that enthusiasm lasts and we internally strive to keep things as fresh as possible, and then to continue to evolve and change with the times so that we can be on the air for many years to come.

Us: Any last teases you can tell us about this summer and what fans can expect?

Grodner: We have a really fun premiere planned. It’s a 90-minute live premiere and at the end, we will have something that’s never happened before. Julie is going to make an offer that might be, or is most likely, too good to refuse. A double or nothing kind of offer, to go with the gambling theme that we’ve got, and taking risks and rewards, and all the chances and high stakes and all of that, that we’re going to be playing into with our twists. We will be ending premiere night with a big offer.

Big Brother 23 premieres on CBS Wednesday, July 7, at 8 p.m. ET.

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