Skip to Content
reality TV reviews, news, and analysis since 2000

Julie Chen reveals who CBS wanted to host Big Brother, and much more

Julie Chen reveals who CBS wanted to host Big Brother, and much more
Big Brother host Julie Chen and her husband, CBS CEO Les Moonves, at the CBS Summer Soiree May 18, 2015. (Photo by Helga Esteb / Shutterstock)

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:

All reality blurred content is independently selected, including links to products or services. However, if you buy something after clicking an affiliate link, I may earn a commission, which helps support reality blurred. Learn more.

More great stories

About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

Discussion: your turn

I think of writing about television as the start of a conversation, and I value your contributions to that conversation. We’ve created a community that connects people through open and thoughtful conversations about the TV we’re watching and the stories about it.

To share our perspectives and exchange ideas in a welcoming, supportive space, I’ve created these rules for commenting here. By commenting below, you confirm that you’ve read and agree to those rules.

Happy discussing!