In this edition of Ask Andy, questions about the airdates and availability of two great competitions, The Traitors and The Mole.
Also: questions about tickets to Tournament of Champions and how the writers’ and actors’ strikes affect Big Brother 25.
Have a question about reality TV? Send it to me!
Does Big Brother have striking writers?
I would like to see you address how the WGA strike will impact Big Brother? Since most of the houseguests comments going into comps and veto comps are scripted (poorly I might add) it would be interesting to know how BB intends to deal with this. I’d also like to know when they taped the recent BB special?
Clearly someone wrote that show, how’d they do that without writers? Did they shoot it before the strike? Did they have special permission (highly doubtable)? Or did they use scab writers? —Geri Barrath
These are great questions. And I’m glad you’re thinking about this, especially as we’re in the middle of two Hollywood strikes.
The Writers Guild of America announced today that they’ll sit down with the AMPTP—the group of companies and studios that negotiate together—on Wednesday. That’s good news since last week, the WGA noted that the AMPTP has only once given then a counter-offer since the strike began.
The first answer is that Big Brother—which is filmed and airs in real time—does not employ writers represented by the Writers Guild of America, so there is no direct impact.
In the past, as I wrote about in my essay about unionizing reality TV crew and cast, the WGA did attempt to unionize reality TV story producers, the people who assemble narratives out of existing footage. They’re not making up characters and plotlines like a scripted TV writer would, but are still crafting stories.
Big Brother currently lists four story producers, two story editors, and one associate story producer in its credits, in addition to 14 editors and six assistant editors. But again, they’re not WGA members.
Some unscripted shows do use WGA writers, including the game show Jeopardy!. Several talk shows that have striking writers planned to resume production, but have just reversed those decisions after backlash.
While Big Brother doesn’t have union-represented writers, it sure does have some writing.
When Julie Chen Moonves reads questions off a teleprompter or her stack of cards, she’s reading words that have obviously been written for her.
While the players are heavily coached in the Diary Room, often making their words sound scripted, they also read truly scripted words sometimes. That includes competition rules or notes from producers, such as the announcement about BB25’s ejected player.
So who, then, is writing Big Brother’s stuff? The answer is: the show’s producers, i.e. people on the show’s production staff.
Should people who write scripts for TV be covered under a union? I’d say so—and other shows are, including Dancing with the Stars, which has one WGA represented writer to write its scripts.
As to SAG-AFTRA, Julie Chen Moonves is a member of that union, but she’s not on strike because she’s covered by a different contract, which is called the Network Television Code. It covers “morning news shows, talk shows, serials (soap operas), variety, reality, game shows, sports and promotional announcements,” according to the union, which ratified a new contract last year.
Can Americans watch The Traitors New Zealand?
Like you I’m a big fan of “The Traitors”. I’ve seen the US, UK, and Australia versions. My question is: Where can people in the U.S. watch The Traitors – New Zealand series? Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. —Gary
Thank you, Gary, as I have the same question. Alas, I do not have a definitive answer for you.
The Traitors NZ aired in August on Three in New Zealand, concluding early in September.
Besides the fact that I just want another season of The Traitors to watch, the trailer intrigues me, because it has challenges from the US and UK version, but also uses Australia’s logo and some other production design.
Alas, New Zealand is not yet available in the U.S. I really, really hope Peacock will license it, as they did with the UK and Australian versions, but no word yet.
Maybe they’ll do that as the airdate for Peacock’s The Traitors season two gets closer?
By the way: While bootleg versions of NZ or other editions may be online somewhere—and I honestly don’t know, as I have not looked as of this writing—I won’t link to them, and cannot, both for ethical reasons (I want artists and creators to be paid for their work) and legal reasons (something known as contributory copyright infringement).
That’s why I don’t write about shows that are not legally available to watch in the United States, and also why I remove any comments linking to pirated content, even if the commenter is trying to be helpful!
When will Netflix’s second Mole air?
P.S….I’m also a big fan of The Mole. I started watching with the first series back in 2001. I have all seasons that are available on DVD. I even have season 5 (2008) on a VHS tape! Do you know the streaming schedule for season 2 of the Netflix series? Thanks again. —Gary
Hi again, Gary! I split your question up in two, but am also here with another “we just don’t know yet” answer!
What I do know is that Netflix’s second season of The Mole—technically season 7, or if we’re only counting civilian seasons, season 5—filmed in July and August this year.
The gap between The Mole season one filming and season one airing was well over one year. It was so long that host Alex Wagner already had and started a new job before Netflix even announced her as host.
I have no idea if Netflix will make us wait that long for season two, but Netflix tends to not reveal unscripted premiere dates until a few weeks, maybe a month, before that date.
Some of that the time after filming is, of course, used for post-production, so it’s unlikely we’ll see it this fall. My hope would be spring or summer of next year, as next fall would be a two-year gap between seasons.
Can I have tickets to TOC 5?
Hi! I’d like to have a couple tickets when available please. I live near Santa Rosa. First taping and any others please. —Deb
Hi Deb. Thanks for asking. I am merely a TV critic who has covered Food Network’s Tournament of Champions; I am neither Food Network nor the production company.
That means I do not have tickets, and cannot send you any. I’m sorry.
However, I do know that, in the past, TOC has used a company called On Camera Audiences to fill its (relatively small) studio audience, which I wrote about here: How do I get Tournament of Champions tickets?
On Camera Audiences’ page for TOC currently has no information about tickets for season five. However, it does offer an option to “Submit your information for future dates.”
To be clear: I am not On Camera Audiences, and therefore cannot get you on camera, in an audience, or off their mailing list if you sign up for it.
But I wish you luck, and please wave to us from the audience if you manage to find your way there!