It's getting pretty damn hard to fluster the contestants on Big Brother, so look for a huge, sneaky twist when the CBS reality hit starts its 12th season — a twist that's intended to shake up the game and create chaos and suspicion among the players. "I don't think we've ever had so many BB superfans in the house at one time," says exec producer Allison Grodner. "They have an encyclopedic knowledge of the program and know it better than we do. To throw them off, we're going to make the game harder to play than ever before."
Here's how she'll do it: On premiere night (Thursday, July 8, 8/9c) the houseguests will be told that producers have slipped a mole into the group. America will learn the impostor's identity on July 15 during the first live episode and, through an interactive online process, fans will be able to suggest ways for the impostor to sabotage the players and disrupt the game. (Visit cbs.com/bbtwist for more information.) The longer the impostor maintains anonymity, the more money he or she will take home.
So how does the Season 12 cast stack up? TV Guide Magazine interviewed each of the players right before they went into the BB house. (Paolo Aviles, a 30-year-old out-of-work real estate agent, later got cold feet and quit the show, dropping the head count to 13.) We found no shortage of Type-A show-offs and high-maintenance personalities among this year's group, but they were virtually unanimous in their dislike of Season 11 prima donna Chima Simone, who was ejected from the show when she disobeyed Grodner's repeated requests to go to the diary room and threw her pricey body mike into the swimming pool.
But opinions were split over last year's surprise champ, sweetheart waitress Jordan Lloyd, who won the $500,000 grand prize without stabbing even one back. Many in the BB12 cast admire how Jordan reinvented the game by playing it with honesty and decency, while others find her to be naïve and clueless and feel she didn't deserve the dough because she didn't really earn it.
"There will be a lot of anti-Jordan strategy coming into the house, which may or may not be wise," notes Grodner. "As we saw, the winner isn't necessarily the one who plays the best game. It could be the one who pissed off the jury the least!"
Here's our take on the BB12 players:
From: Philadelphia, PA
Occupation: Shoe Store Manager
An odd bird, to say the least. Bitting is loaded with tics and mannerisms that'll either endear her to the other houseguests or annoy the holy crap out of 'em. She's prone to overstatement and self-homage: "I have put everything — my whole entire life — on the line to go into the BB house," Bitting says. "A lot of people know me in Philadelphia and they won't know where I am. This is the biggest risk of my life. It's truth or dare time." And she never met a metaphor she couldn't mangle: "I believe in Karma," she states. "It's good to not burn the bridge too hard because you never know when it's going to come back at you."
From: Decatur, TX
Occupation: Oil Rig Salesman
This big, brawny bruiser is not fooling anybody, himself included. "I'm just a meat-head jock so I need a brain to work with me in the BB house," says Elenburg. "Hopefully there'll be a doctor or lawyer or financial major I can team up with — someone who will take me almost all the way to the end before I lie and stab him in the back." Living on a ranch has left Elenburg with a crazed fear of electric fences. His best friends are his brother and sister. And he won't be helping out much in the BB kitchen. "I can put dishes away but I'm not a very good cooker," he says with a sluggy drawl. "Oh, except for 90-second microwave. That I can definitely do."
From: West Hollywood, CA
Occupation: Professor at Cal State Long Beach
He does not plan to admit he has a doctorate in communications. "I'm obsessed with BB and I know how to talk game," says Fox. "That and a PhD would get me bounced from the house in a second — even I would evict me!" A part-time slam poet and author of two poetry collections on gay life (2005's Heterophobia and 2009's Exile in Gayville), Fox won't fret if there's homophobia in the house. "I grew up in very conservative Cypress, Texas," he says. "I know how to navigate through that sort of thing extremely well." The day Fox found out he was a BB finalist, he spotted Season 10's flamboyant Rennie at his local grocery store. A good omen?
From: Miami Beach, FL
Oy vey, what a pain! "I know I'll be the smartest one in the house and I'm a triathlete — biking, swimming, running — so watch out!" says Gordon, a divorced single dad and Orthodox Jew who has already convinced the BB producers to provide him with kosher slop. He plans to shave ficw years off his age, so that he'll mix better with the younger players. "I spend my day dealing with old Jewish people and their foot problems," he says. "If I can deal with them I'll have the patience to deal with anything in the house." Well, almost anything. Gordon told us he doesn't want to share space with any Arabs. States the doc: "I would have a problem with it politically."
From: Huntington, AR
Occupation: Hilton Hotel Sales Manager
A junior version of Dolly Parton, this tiny, saucy, gay-friendly sexpot — this season's youngest contestant — recently got engaged to a medical technologist. "My going on BB is gonna be a nice break for him because there's nothing crazier than a newly engaged girl!" Haynes says with a country cackle. "I will make it clear to the men in the house right up front that I'm not available. You get yourself in trouble when you mix business and pleasure." And she does mean business. "When it comes to the physical competitions, I'm no powerhouse who's gonna blow everyone else away. My strength lies is my ambition. And I am here to win."
From: Texarkana, AR
Occupation: Deputy Sheriff Sergeant
Angie Dickinson has nothing on this policewoman. Though the bodaciously blond Hillis — a divorcee with a 22-year-old son — is this year's oldest houseguest, she's also the dishiest. And she's got an incredible back story: A self-admitted "wild child," Hillis nearly died of ovarian cancer in 1999 and — taking that as a sign to straighten up — decided to become a cop. "I'll just tell the houseguests that I pull people over for speeding and leave out my experience in criminal profiling," she says. "I can read faces. I'm an expert at body language. Will I call people out on their lies? Absolutely not. But, trust me, I will keep it all filed away in my mind!"
From: Elgin, IL
Occupation: Web Designer
A computer whiz and a certified genius — yep, he's a member of MENSA — Hoffman is also quite the wise-ass. And he knows it could get him in trouble. "I have the curse of gab and the filter between my brain and my mouth doesn't always work," says Hoffman, who intends to trim his age a bit so he can have a faux 30th birthday party in the house. This is actually his second time as a BB contestant. He was picked last year, then had to drop out when he realized the finale conflicted with his wedding day. "My wife, Stacy, will be watching on the 24-hour feed so no cuddling or massages in the BB house for me," Hoffman says. "I don't want to go home and get my balls in a sling."
From: Tempe, AZ
Occupation: College Student
If this dude's not the mole, he's sure as hell acting like it. A jobless, over-bronzed muscleman who hopes someday to open a snowboard shop, Moss admits he's not very B&B savvy and has only seen Season 11 — and that was handed to him on DVD by the show's producers. When we ask how he came to apply for the program, he looks nervously at his handler and says, "I don't think I'm supposed to answer that question." The handler mumbles something equally fishy about Moss being "a random applicant." Whatevs. Real or fake, win or lose, BB won't interfere much with his lifestyle. Shrugs Moss: "I'd be sitting around the pool doing nothing all summer anyway."
From: Bayonne, NJ
Occupation: Car Insurance Appraiser
Guido alert! "I'm from Joizey. I got a short personality. I don't like pencil-neck geeks. I don't like stuck-up women. I'm Italian, which means I'm Catholic, but I don't like super-religious people. I'm not here for the ha-has. I'm here to take it down!" says the loud, rapid-fire Palumbo, the kind of guy who sucks up all the oxygen in the room. If he wins, he claims he won't get a chance to even smell the money "because my wife is gonna want something Cartier." His big worry going into the BB house? "I'm managing two fantasy baseball teams right now and I'm winning. My brother will have to take over and everything he touches turns to crap."
From: Las Vegas, NV
Occupation: Cocktail Waitress
This voluptuous redhead gets high rollers all liquored up at the Sin City VIP club Aria — her best tip ever was $4000! — but she's also preparing for a career in science. "Most people look at me and think I'm just a hot girl with big boobs when I'm really a chemistry grad student with big boobs!" says Reilly, who dreams of some day hosting her own nerd show on the Discovery Channel. Slop? Not a problem. "I grew up on redneck liver mush in Concord, North Carolina, home of NASCAR. I can handle it," insists Reilly, who packed very lightly for the game. "Wait until the guys in the house see me in all my little Vegas bikinis. They. Are. Going. To. Freak!"
From: Glen Carbon, IL
Occupation: Runway and Print Model
Another Chima? We'd bet half a million on it! The gaspingly gorgeous Stunson entered a CBS talent contest in St. Louis and — without any acting experience — won a one-day role on The Young and the Restless. She then moved to L.A. to try for more jobs, but soon fled because she was annoyed by the traffic. During our interview, she was already blasé about being picked for BB, clearly bored with the press and inexplicably pouty. Does she have meltdown potential? "You might witness a few crying fits," admits the diva. And that's not her only warning. "I highly doubt I will meet the man of my dreams in the BB house," she says. "But I will have no problem leading a guy on."
From: Riverside, CA
Occupation: High School Swim Coach
He's taught so many kids that he's starting to think like one. "Going into the BB house as a contestant is like stepping into a giant board game — it's every boy's dream!" says the studly Villegas, who also has a more adult dream in the works. This fall, he will begin work on his PhD at UCLA — on full scholarship — with plans to become a biophysicist and eventually enter the field of cancer treatment. He reminds us a lot of last season's popular Jeff. Will he find his own Jordan? Says Villegas: "My one weakness in the game is that I could easily fall for a sweet, genuine, down-to-earth girl. A showmance will probably be my downfall."
From: Tampa, FL
Now she toils for tips at a steakhouse, but Whittington once had aspirations to be a star on Broadway. "My problem on BB will be that I'm over-dramatic and over-expressive and you can read everything on my face — which is why I have never attempted to play poker!" says Whittington. "If I'm going to succeed in this game, I will need to dial it down and save it all for the diary room." Whittington is in a serious relationship with another woman back home in Tampa. "But initially I will keep that to myself," she says. "Whether or not I talk about it will depend on how I feel about the other houseguests and how comfortable I am."