Julie Chen is the one part of Big Brother that has remained the same since season one. Everything else—the game, the house, the producers, the contestants, the sidekicks (oh, Dr. Drew)—has changed. She’s the familiar glue that holds this dysfunctional show together.
Julie has, yes, evolved, though not into early Jeff Probst (asking the real questions fans wanted answered, not ones producers write) nor into recent Jeff Probst (who actively controls the show on camera). Her stream of robotic “but first”s may not have changed, but she’s at least developed self-awareness about being The Chenbot, as she was once known. On The Talk, she’s become even warmer, sharing about herself and going off-prompter.
Still, in this must-read interview with BuzzFeed’s Jarett Wieselman, who tells the story of Julie’s ascent, she opens up in ways that I haven’t seen before. It’s fascinating.
Among the things she reveals:
- Her husband, CBS CEO Les Moonves, who she met after being cast, finally admitted to her that the host the network wanted for Big Brother “was Meredith Vieira, but she turned it down.”
- The criticism of her performance was hurtful: “It’s a scary, dark, lonely place. Part of me thought there would always be haters, but sometimes you read a comment and realize there’s a grain of truth to it: I could see why they think that of me.”
- When she was hired as the permanent newsreader on The Early Show, she was given well under half the salary a new person would have been given. Her reaction: “When is this shit going to end?!?. Like, Haven’t I proved that I earned my spot here? Now can you tell me what’s fair? But it made me work harder to prove myself.”
And for some nostalgia, enjoy: