Voyeur alert! CBS' Big Brother that wildly addictive, Orwellian peep show will launch its seventh season tonight at 8 pm/ET with Big Brother 7: All-Stars, featuring 12 of the show's most popular houseguests. During the kickoff, host Julie Chen will introduce the 20 semifinalists, then unveil which six were picked by fan votes and which six were chosen by executive producers Allison Grodner and Arnold Shapiro. The winner collects half a million bucks but not before surviving three months of lies, secret alliances and an outrageously snoopy potty cam.
"We pulled together a great mix of 20," Grodner says. "Some were beloved, some we loved to hate, some we just plain hated. But they all made great TV."
The list includes two former champs, the scathingly wicked Dr. Will (Season 2) and sweet, cagey Lisa (Season 3), who won by keeping herself well below the radar, as well as Alison (Season 4), a runner-up so crowd-pleasingly devious she went on to compete on The Amazing Race. Also in this potentially explosive mix are several hot-bodied show-offs (Jase, Janelle) and out-and-proud gays (Bunky, Marcellas, Ivette), who could do battle with a redneck (Michael), a Bible spouter (James) and a lightsaber-wielding Star Wars geek (Howie).
But if your faves don't get back into the house or aren't even in the top 20 (hey, where's boozy, cheese-lovin' Amy?), don't fret: The BB execs say more past houseguests will pop up to give commentary. And there will be lots to dish about: "The competition will be so fierce that every eviction will be a big deal," Shapiro says. In past years, the first to go were usually the weak, the old, the boring. Not so this time.
"People who've previously won will probably be huge targets," predicts Janelle Pierzina, the busty, bawdy Miami Beach cocktail waitress from last summer. "The ones we already know we can't trust the real mind-screwers will also be the first to go. Oh, and anyone who is very well liked by the viewers."
That could be Janelle's fellow Season 6 vet Kaysar Ridha, the Irvine, California, graphic designer whom Shapiro calls "America's favorite Muslim." After being evicted last year, Ridha was voted back into the house by the fans, only to be quickly ousted again. Now he's got a shot at a third entry, which would be a BB record. "That could be like waving a red cloth in front of a bull," Ridha says. "I know I'm a target, especially because the producers have told us that America will have more say this time than ever before."
Ridha expects lots of "paranoia and overconfidence," while Marcellas Reynolds foresees "a total bloodbath." The flamboyantly mouthy Beverly Hills fashion stylist was bounced in Season 3 when he weirdly chose not to save himself with the Golden Veto. That boneheaded move could be his ticket back in. "They're not going to do BB: All-Stars and not bring in the black gay guy," Reynolds declares. "I don't care what anybody says, I am the most famous person to come out of the franchise. I made the biggest blunder in the history of reality TV." He's also a host of CBS.com's BB webcast House Calls, and thus has encyclopedic knowledge of past contestants. "And I plan to use it," Reynolds says. "If Dr. Will starts pulling that villain bulls--t, we'll get rid of him."
He's expecting that. "I fully anticipate being the first to get kicked out," Will Kirby says. "But in my case, eviction is the highest form of flattery." The cocky Los Angeles dermatologist claims to be at a disadvantage: "I didn't watch any BB season but my own. The more recent contestants are real students of BB and know everybody's tricks. I'm just not that bored... or desperate."
Such satanic barbs should go well with this year's heaven-and-hell theme: The living room has 16-foot neon flames, and one of the bedrooms is said to be rather creepy. Teases Shapiro: "Julie Chen saw it when she took a tour of the house and couldn't sleep that night."
Won't this put a crimp in one of the show's tawdriest pleasures the hookups? "Some people went into the game and let lust derail them," Shapiro says. "Now they're saying, 'I'm not going to let physical attraction get in the way.'" But they forget there's a higher power at work. Notes the BB boss: "The house always undoes everybody's best-laid plans."
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