Big Brother 13
Allison Grodner is one tough interview. The big cheese at CBS's Big Brother franchise is maddeningly fond of peppering her answers with evasive wisecracks and un-informational silences, along with the occasional, oh-so-expected catchphrase "Expect the unexpected." But as Thursday's premiere of Big Brother 13 approaches, there's no hiding the exec producer's enthusiasm for this year's houseguests.
"I think this is our most interesting and diverse mix of people yet. We have some very big personalities and a twist that's going to impact them in a way like never before," says Grodner, who will bring in eight newbie contestants and mix them up with memorable pairs from past seasons. (The identity of the all-star couples won't be revealed until premiere night.) "They will be very fearsome duos — not necessarily in the sense of being evil but fearsome because they were notoriously formidable competitors," Grodner says. "This season, BB will be heavily influenced by our 'Dynamic Duos' theme. Everybody will have to play the game differently."
This might suggest that even the newbies will be teamed into duos — thereby making secret alliances problematic — but Grodner is saying no more about that. Nor will she cough up details about a ninth new houseguest, 26-year-old boxing recruiter Jason Thomas, who was introduced to the press in late June but mysteriously vanished soon after. "There's no big scandal there," assures Grodner. "It was just a last-minute change, the kind of creative decision we always reserve the right to make. There's nothing wrong with Jason. He's a good kid. And, who knows, you may see him next year."
As for the BB house itself, it's all about Venice, California, this year. "This is the first time we've designed the house as a loft space," Grodner says. "We have huge warehouse windows, exposed lighting, a very young, beachy vibe with surfboards, bicycles, graffiti. For the unlucky ones, our 'Have Not' room is the most extreme we've ever had. Last year we had ugly, smelly stuff. This year it's quite serious." On the bright side, there's a Katy Perry room — all done in popsicle colors — and a tarot card parlor where a mechanical fortune teller will figure prominently in the competitions.
TV Guide Magazine sat down with the new contestants before they entered the house to get some juicy scoop on each — but we won't bother trying to predict the winner! Last season, we were 110 percent sure that Kathy Hillis, the deputy sheriff and ovarian cancer survivor from Arkansas, would go the distance. Turned out, she couldn't find her own butt with a map. "One thing's guaranteed about Big Brother," says Grodner with a laugh. "There will always be a Kathy. And it's never who you expect." With that in mind, meet the BB13 houseguests!
Current Home: Los Angeles
Watch out for this one. Booker is a writer for the web sites AOL Black Voices, Urban Daily and Allstar Weekend but admits she lives a life of deceit — she also writes a dishy blog about dating, relationships and sex under a bogus byline. "Some of my friends know I'm writing about them, some don't, but I never use their real names," says Booker, whose motto going into the BB house is T-shirt ready: "Lie to everybody. Trust nobody." Still, she plans to be "as truthful as possible in the house, not because I want to be open and honest, but because people forget their lies really easily." Ya think? During our interview, Booker assured us she was so successful as a writer that she didn't need supplemental income. A little while later we asked how she came to audition for B&B and she said she was discovered by one of the show's talent scouts while she was at her part-time bartending job. Like we said, watch out for this one.
Hometown: Fort Lauderdale
Current Home: Miami Beach
Here's one houseguest who does not need the cash. Happily describing herself as a "bitch," Briggs is a VIP cocktail waitress at the Miami hotspot The Mynt Lounge where, she says, "I put a sparkler on a bottle of $850 champagne and make the kind of money a doctor does." (Her biggest one-night tip? Ten grand!) Still, she wants that half-a-mill grand prize and she wants it bad. "Dealing with Miami's diverse culture makes me a natural for BB," Briggs boasts. "I can get along with anybody, whether you're gay or a Bible thumper. Nothing throws me off my game. I make a living by selling. Now I'm putting myself up for sale and I think it'll go really well." Meaning she's open to some hanky panky in the house? "Oh... why not?" Briggs says with a shrug. "I have nothing serious going on in my real life. My ex-boyfriend doesn't even care that I'm doing BB. Maybe I'll have a showmance just to make him jealous."
Hometown/Current Home: San Mateo, Cal.
Warning to anyone with an urge to date this guy: He still lives at home. Briones is a catalogue model operating out of the San Francisco Bay Area but he really wants to be a pediatric surgeon and is currently pre-med. For the record, he swears he's "an athletic guy's guy" who only fell into the fashion world accidentally when a photographer offered him $500 for one day's work. "When people ask me what I do, I usually make up something because 'I'm a model' is such a douchebag thing to say," notes Briones. "But, the truth is, it's been my sole income for two years now." His Filipino-Italian family "was bawling it up when I left for BB," he says. "My mother was really having a hard time. She does everything for me — cooking, cleaning, laundry, dishes. I don't know how to do any of that." But that won't be his worst weakness on BB. "I can't keep my mouth shut and it's impossible for me to keep a secret," Briones admits. "If someone does something bad, I'm always the whistleblower."
Hometown: Allen, Texas
Current Home: Nashville
Tyra wanted her for the very first cycle of America's Next Top Model but this twangy Texan — a model for J.C. Penney at age 11 — turned La Banks down flat. "The show wanted girls who [appeared to be] green so they wanted me to drop my agents," Colvin says. "I just couldn't do it. I wouldn't burn my bridges. And I have no regrets." Here's why: Even without the help of Top Model, Colvin went on to win lengthy and lucrative modeling contracts in New York, Hong Kong, Milan and Sydney. She does it all — high fashion, sportswear, cosmetics — and she'd like America to know that "some models do eat and not all of them are a--holes. I'm happy with the way I look but I don't feel it makes me better than anybody else. Oh, I can get mad, but I would never throw a phone like Naomi Campbell. There's no reason to be that ugly to another person." Oh yeah? Check back with us, Cassi, after you've spent a few weeks in the BB house!
Hometown: Urbana, Ill.
Current Home: Inglewood, Cal.
The über-flamboyant Exum is a legal file clerk for an L.A. entertainment company that he refuses to name. But he's not at all reluctant to tell us why he was picked for BB. "I have charm, style and charisma and I am not afraid to wear polka dots," he says. "When I met with the producers I totally engrossed them. They were like, 'Where did you come from?'" Exum dreams of being a red-carpet interviewer, though he sees himself as more Mary Hart than Joan Rivers. "My big problem is that I like everybody, which could get me into trouble on BB," he says. "I won't want to throw anyone out." Unless, of course, there are hygiene issues. "Oooh, I have a big ole thing about cleanliness," Exum expounds. "If somebody stinks in the house, watch out! I will be throwing you in the pool." He's among the oldest players this season, but he's not fretting it. "I'll probably be as gorgeous as the young ones," he says, "but I also have years of wisdom on my side."
Hometown and Current Home: Bolingbrook, Ill.
This Baptist deacon makes no bones about it: "I want to do soap operas," he says. "And I especially want to have a romance with Brooke Logan on The Bold and the Beautiful." Henderson, who juggles his church duties with a career as a human resources manager, plans to fib about his life when he hits the BB house. "As soon as you hear HR you think, 'Now that's a guy who knows how to read people! He's too sharp! Let's get him outta here!' So I plan to tell everyone I'm a garbage man or that I repair cars," says Henderson. "My church will be OK with that because this is not really Keith lying. Keith will be playing a character." That logic may not work with his mom. "Before I left for BB she said, 'Keith, don't you be having sex on TV!' So now I'll also have to lie to the girls and tell them I've been broken-hearted for seven months and that I'm having a hard time trusting women." But what if temptation gets the best of him? "Just in case, I won't let my mama watch [Showtime 2's] Big Brother After Dark," explains Henderson. "That's when I'll be getting my grind on!"
Hometown: Centerville, Ohio
Current Home: Prairieville, La.
Expect lots of tears. Moore, a globe-trotting executive for a sporting goods company, is leaving behind an 8-year-old daughter, Josie, and her husband, Tony, who's in the swimming pool business, in order to realize her dream on BB. "I'm really going to miss them but I see this show as a life lesson," says this season's oldest contestant. "I hope my daughter will one day look back at what I've done — how I stepped out of my comfort zone and did something really brave and challenging — and take that to heart. I hope she will be proud of me, and see what class and integrity are all about." Moore's greatest concern? "That I have a wardrobe malfunction and accidentally show my butt on TV. Trust me, no one wants to see that. If they have to pixilate me I'll be mortified!" Her idea of a nightmare houseguest? "Egomaniac girls who don't do anything but worry about their damn hair and if their fake boobs look great. I'm just going to die if [BB 12's] Rachel walks into the house and goes, 'Hey, bitches! I'm baaaack!'"
Hometown: East Brunswick, N.J.
Current Home: Hoboken, N.J.
He looks like he could kick your ass from here to next Tuesday. And the metal spike poking through his chin doesn't help. "But I only seem like a Hell's Angel," promises Poch. "I'm really just a funny, lovable teddy bear of a guy who is into heavy metal but also Broadway musicals and Beverly Hills, 90210 reruns. Every day you can find me IM'ing my female friends about the world of celebrity gossip. And I love appletinis." A music inventory manager by trade, Poch tried out for BB twice before. Last year, he made it all the way to the finals. When he was bounced at the 11th hour, he ate an extra-extra-large pizza all by himself, then hit the gym the following day. Back then he weighed 330 pounds. Now he's at 225. His biggest asset in the game? "Girls do not see me as a threat or as someone who is trying to get down their pants," says Poch. "I will console them. I will be their best friend. Women just want to be listened to. And I am a great listener."
Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!