Get ready for some fireworks. At this point, the outcome of Celebrity Big Brother season 3 may seem predictable, but host Julie Chen Moonves says the finale should bring at least a little bit of drama.
“This jury is so fired up,” the CBS personality, 52, exclusively tells Us Weekly ahead of the Wednesday, February 23, live finale during which all the jurors will be brought back together to vote for one winner between singer/dancer Todrick Hall, Real Housewives of Atlanta alum Cynthia Bailey and former UFC champ Miesha Tate (depending on who wins final Head of Household).
“There’s gonna be a live HOH. Because we’re only an hour, it’s gonna be a whirlwind of an hour,” Julie says. “All the jurors get to say one statement before they stick the key in the box. And I think that will be a powerful part of the show when each one gets to say something to the final two. It’s amazing how in one sentence you can really take a dig at someone, or show grace, or just let someone know exactly where they stand.”
When it comes to her rooting interests, she tells Us, “I don’t think I’m rooting for anyone in that’s left in the house, but I do think Miesha deserves it. … So, in a way, I guess I am rooting for Miesha because she has worked her butt off, and if she doesn’t win it, I think that would be an injustice to her.”
Miesha has been aligned closely with Todrick, but he’s been taking a ton of heat from his fellow houseguests as they get evicted – something Julie thinks he needs to own if there’s any chance of him scoring a few votes.
“Jury management is everything, always,” she tells Us. “That’s why that final speech to the jurors who are often very bitter, sometimes rightfully so, sometimes not rightfully so. You better own it and you better explain yourself because that’s your shot. You have one shot.”
What else did Julie have to say about this season? And what about future seasons of Celebrity Big Brother? Watch above or scroll down to read our interview!
The Celebrity Big Brother finale airs on CBS Wednesday, February 23, at 8 p.m.
Us Weekly: Hi, Julie. How are you? I feel like this season’s been on for months!
Julie Chen Moonves: I know. I know. Imagine how the houseguests feel who are still there.
Us: I can’t even imagine. I have to ask you first: Todrick’s getting a lot of heat outside the house. The houseguests are slowly learning things as they come out. Have you seen clips? Have you seen the feedback and what are your thoughts about it?
JCM: I have not seen them personally because I personally think that the internet can be a cesspool. So that being said, I do have people in my life that report back to me. So I do understand a little bit of the heat that he’s taking. And I would say that I pray when Todrick comes out that he takes a moment to reflect on his own behavior in his own way, where he watches all the shows and thinks quietly, “OK, how do I defend myself? What can I own? What should I, if anything, apologize for? How do I make it square with my friends in the house who I consider friends? How do I get square with anyone else that I think that I should get square with?” And that’s it. And I just pray that people know that no one’s perfect. And can we pivot and live in a time where if someone owns it, that we allow some forgiveness and some grace? I think when we are so quick to get angry and spew hate, I don’t have time for that. And that’s why I don’t read the internet. It’s just a cesspool. I don’t like it. I don’t like hate.
Us: I know Todrick’s a fan to some extent. Do you think the celebrities really understand that they’re being watched 24/7 in there?
JCM: I think Todrick totally understood that he is being watched 24/7 because he is a superfan. I don’t think all the celebrities realize it to the extent of the superfans like Shanna Moakler and Todrick, and I’m trying to think. Was there another superfan?
Us: I think Chris Kirkpatrick is a fan too.
JCM: Yes. Chris Kirkpatrick. Those three totally got it. That being said, I don’t believe you can – even if you are so aware – I don’t think you can for 27 days straight be a phony. I don’t think you can turn it on for the cameras. You know, breakfast, lunch and dinner morning, noon night. I don’t think that’s possible. So at the end of the day, I always feel that whether you’re celebrity or you’re not a celebrity, but you go in the Big Brother house, take everything with a grain of salt. Not everyone’s gonna like you and that’s fine. That’s the world. That’s how life is. But take time to really look at who you are and see is that the person God created me to be? We all have a good side and a bad side. And how do I hang around with people who only bring out the good side in me? And you know, we’re all a work in progress. Let’s not be so quick to cancel people.
Us: Todd [Bridges] came out of the house praising Todrick and then quickly changed his tune. This isn’t a normal season where the jury is sequestered. Do you think jury management is even more important?
JCM: Jury management is everything, always. You can’t expect the celebrities to then get sequestered. That’s part of the deal. Like, “If I go in, do I get to go home?” That’s why that final speech to the jurors who are often very bitter, sometimes rightfully so, sometimes not rightfully so. You better own it and you better explain yourself because that’s your shot. You have one shot.
Us: I’m curious if Miesha ends up in final two next to Cynthia … she’s won a lot of comps, but do you think her connection to Todrick could hurt her?
JCM: I don’t think think her connection with Todrick will hurt her if she’s sitting next to Todrick. I think with the jury, they’re gonna be like – now this is me guessing what the jury’s gonna be thinking if it is Todrick versus Miesha – which is the lesser of the two evils? That’s my educated guess. That’s not what I would think. I would think, “You know what? Put my ego at the door. Who deserves this check, good, bad or ugly?” I don’t see how Cynthia makes it to the final two unless she wins the live HOH. I really don’t. And I do think if she somehow makes it to the final two, this jury is so fired up that she might win unanimously for just being a nice human being.
Us: Do you think this is one of the most bitter juries we’ve had?
JCM: No, we’ve had more bitter juries. Play the tapes on finale night where they’re, like, stink eye. But the beauty is now all those people are like best friends. Time heals all wounds. And when you live in that Big Brother house, it’s like you’ve gone to bootcamp together. You are bonded. Whether you like it, for life.
Us: Todrick’s move to convince Carson [Kressley] that Shanna was against him was a good move, however dirty…
JCM: Brilliant move. Brilliant move.
Us: Do you think the jury will respect that though?
JCM: That’s the million-dollar question. I think if he can humbly explain it from a position of truth and owning, like, “Was it dirty? You better believe it. Was it genius? You better believe it. And at the end of the day, if you can put your ego aside. I’m gonna ask for forgiveness, but those of you who know this game know it is allowed. I don’t think I would do that in my real life, but to win Big Brother, I followed the rules.” If he can say that from a humble point of view, he might be able to get some votes.
Us: We’ll see. Shanna got a ton of support when she came out of the house. She has a big campaign for America’s Favorite Houseguest. Thoughts on that?
JCM: I am not surprised that she got all that support because I felt it rumbling up in the days before she got evicted. I felt it rumbling up in my heart for her. I was like, “Oh man, I hope she wins this. I hope she survives.” And every three days my emotions change because then some of my disappointment, I’ll be like, “Oh, I’m done with you for now.” But I was so happy to see the warm support she got. Because the cameras don’t lie. They just don’t and she played her heart out. I think her biggest downfall was she couldn’t clearly and calmly articulate to Carson and Cynthia like, “Yeah, I was giving them lip service, but I took you off the block! Like, words are cheap. Words are cheap. They don’t mean anything in the Big Brother house. They don’t mean anything in life. Actions speak louder than words. You decide.” But I think she got so caught up in like this psycho swirl and this very, like, eighth grade ganging up, bullying moment that she just kind of threw in the towel. I think her downfall was when she was like, “It’s not like we had a name.” They were like, “Ohhhh.” She didn’t do a great job defending herself. It wasn’t her year.
Us: She was also playing with people who haven’t seen the show much. Is it hard with these celebrity seasons to one, get celebrities who want to play, and two, celebrities who have seen the show or want to study up?
JCM: Yeah, I think it depends who you are. Carson, I think came to have a good time. Would he have loved to have won? Yes. Did his livelihood and future and ego depend on it? Absolutely not. Then you get in the game, and then you kind of get invested, especially he had a few wins under his belt, and you’re like, “Oh, yeah, maybe I can win this.” And you suddenly pivot, but it’s too late. You can’t go out to the house and watch a past season. You can’t suddenly brush up. They don’t have phones. They can’t read about past seasons. So you gotta make your peace with God before you go into the house, what your intention is. And when you leave, whether you leave with a check or no money, you better own what you did or didn’t do to contribute to where you are. ‘Cause it’s choices you made.
Us: Regarding the finale, what can you tell us? Is it in person? Are we gonna hear from the jurors a lot? Is Todrick in for a wake-up call?
JCM: The finale is going to be all the jurors brought back in the same room, not on Zoom. Praise God, thank you. We were like, “Oh, we don’t know with another variant if people are gonna” … because people went back to their homes, and some of them live on the other coast. There’s gonna be a live HOH. Because we’re only an hour, it’s gonna be a whirlwind of an hour. You know, all the jurors get to say one statement before they stick the key in the box. And I think that will be a powerful part of the show when each one gets to say something to the final two. It’s amazing how in one sentence you can really take a dig at someone, or show grace, or just let someone know exactly where they stand with you. So yeah, you’re gonna see a lot.
Us: Who was your favorite houseguest this season? Who surprised you?
JCM: I had a soft spot in my heart for Todd Bridges but that’s because he’s my generation. I’m a few years younger than him. So, he was one of the stars I grew up watching that is around my age that I related to. And then of course, I saw his life soon after leaving Diff’rent Strokes playing out in the tabloids. And I feel like he’s really had a resurrection, being 33 years sober, I think he said. So I was rooting for him all the way, but that’s nostalgia.
Us: It’s also pretty powerful with Lamar [Odom] asking him to be his sober coach. They’re hoping to do something together. Would you watch that?
JCM: I would produce it! I would love it. I think they need some sort of, like, reality show – like buddy, reality comedy show. Like what Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton did. We need the Lamar and Todd version. Watching them talk in the house about, like, their digestive issues and this, and Todd was always like, “You better get that checked out, man.” It was so funny just hearing them. Lamar was like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, easy. Don’t you question my health,” it was funny to watch.
Us: Do you enjoy the celebrity seasons? Would you want it to come back? I know we’ve been off the air for a few years, but how do you like it?
JCM: I love it. I don’t think we should saturate the market. Every four years feels a little bit long to me because it was originally designed to only be counter-programming to the Winter Olympics on another network. We figured, “Hey, for one month, what do we have to lose? It’ll be better than running reruns, you know?” But I feel like four years is a little long to wait. I don’t know if the opportunity will present itself again. I don’t think next year it’ll happen, but you never know. Expect the unexpected. We’ll see.
Us: And Julie, how would you fare as a houseguest if you were on Celebrity Big Brother?
JCM: Now, I would be terrible. Maybe, like, 12 years ago, I think I could compete in some of those physical challenges. Honestly, I think I would do terrible in every department. I am an open book. I don’t lie. I’m a journalist. I can’t. It’s, like, I’m ChenBot! I don’t know. I can’t misrepresent. That would go against like my nature. So, I don’t think I can make it very far in the game.
Us: Well, even as a host, is it sometimes hard for you to try to stay neutral? Is it harder to interview a celebrity or a regular houseguest?
JCM: They’re equally hard because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’re a celebrity or not. You want to ask them the same human nature questions. The human side of me wants to be like, “How could you?” But whoa, who am I to judge? I do have to draw back from my news background and just think, “How can I get the answer I wanna hear and ask it in the most non-editorialized way?” How do I ask it in a fair way? Where I just give them the ball and it’s up to them, which direction they were run in. It’s hard. It’s hard. It’s not easy.
Us: Totally understand that. Who are you rooting for out of this final three? And who would you like to see win America’s Favorite Houseguest?
JCM: I don’t think I’m rooting for anyone in that’s left in the house, but I do think Miesha deserves it. I do. So, in a way, I guess I am rooting for Miesha because she has worked her butt off, and if she doesn’t win it, I think that would be an injustice to her. So yeah, I guess I’m rooting for Miesha. And then for America’s Favorite Houseguest, that’s tough. I wanted Carson, then I wanted Shanna, and then I wanted Chris Kirkpatrick, and then of course, Lamar was so disarming when he got evicted. Then I wanted him, then I wanted Todd Bridges. So I’m all over the map. I am curious to see who America wanted.
Us: Me too! Do you actually think it will come down to a tie vote? Will America vote tomorrow?
JCM: Well, America will definitely vote. I want to reveal it one way or the other.
Us: Please do!
JCM: You know what? I’m gonna put that in the suggestion box. I just had my script meeting.
Us: Just for fun.
JCM: Yeah, just for fun. Yeah, I think somehow we need to reveal it, even if it’s, like, on Twitter afterwards or something. I don’t think we’re gonna need it, but you never know.