Before someone enters the house to compete $500,000, they have to make it through finals casting, an arduous process that lasts more than a week.
The Big Brother casting process is similar to that of Survivor and other reality shows: Casting selects a number of people to come to L.A. for interviews with casting producers and CBS executives, and other things like psychological testing.
Fun fact: My story and those documents have actually been discussed on Big Brother itself. On the Big Brother 14 live feeds, eventual winner Ian Terry told former winner Dan Gheesling about reality blurred, and receiving documents that were "exactly the same, typos and all," as he said. Watch:
While the design of the house changes every year (here's what's different for BB20's house), the house has used a soundstage at CBS Studio Center, also known as the Radford lot, since season two.
The design—which is changed for every season, including the winter Celebrity Big Brother seasons—is created by production designer Scott Storey. In my in-depth interview with Scott, he explains everything from how the design process works to how the design works to prevent cheating.
During BB12, CBS opened the Big Brother house to a tour for TV critics. Our tour started from the yard, which is not as open or expansive as it seems on TV. Then we continued into the control room and into the camera cross—the space behind the mirrors where camera operators do their work. (That's how George Clooney secretly toured the house during season two.)
TV critics' tour of the Big Brother house, which is in stage 18 at CBS's Radford lot, continued inside the house. We went into the storage room, where they receive groceries and supplies; the bedrooms; the living room and kitchen; the bathroom; and the HOH room and its bathroom.
CBS and the producers of Big Brother have a long history of atrocious editing. It's a big challenge to coherently condense days of activity into minutes of television in near-real time, of course. But that doesn't excuse the way the show has completely misrepresented what's occurred.
"Is it acceptable to you that your two top reality shows allow this behavior and continue to perpetuate stereotypes through the choices the producers are making in editing and in production?", I asked CBS' top entertainment executives at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour. Here are their answers.
In 2020, CBS committed to diversifying its reality show casts: they'll cast 50 percent BIPOC starting in 2021 on Survivor, The Amazing Race, and Big Brother. But their promises about the people who actually cast and make reality TV are less specific.
Big Brother’s editors have used special effects in the editing process to remove cast members from scenes—and also covered up bad behavior, like they did with BB17's Jeff, though that wasn't the first time they erased someone from a scene.
To mark the 20th anniversary of Big Brother’s arrival on CBS, here are 20 pieces from the reality blurred archives, including behind-the-scenes stories, recaps of some of its ugliest moments, interviews with some of its winners and its producers, and stories about just what keeps people watching.
After another summer of light, silly Big Brother fun—costumes, sloppy competitions, grotesque sexism, blatant misogyny, atrocious editing that makes heroes into villains and vice versa, unpunished rule violations, and a young cast with little life experience that laughs about animal abuse and brags about not knowing the game they're currently playing—I wrote about the show's frequent toxicity.
Big Brother’s producers and CBS’ CEO answer questions
One way to learn about what happens behind the scenes is to ask the people who are responsible for producing the show. Its producers and network executives—even the person who runs CBS—have given insight throughout the show’s history.
During season 12, after TV critics toured the house, executive producer and showrunner Allison Grodner talked to TV critics about the show. Among the things she said:
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I’m Andy Dehnart, a writer who obsessively and critically covers reality TV, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.
On reality blurred, which I created 20 years ago as a place to collect interesting links I found, I now review and recommend reality shows, documentaries, and nonfiction entertainment; analyze news and report from behind the scenes; and interview people who create and star in reality TV shows.