CBS Greenlights Fourth Season of 'Big Brother'
2 hours, 16 minutes ago
By Josef Adalian
HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - CBS has given the go-ahead to a fourth season of the voyeuristic reality TV hit "Big Brother," inking a deal with Arnold Shapiro and Allison Grodner to stay on as executive producers and show runners.
Casting on "Big Brother 4" will begin in mid-March, though producers already have received roughly 2000 videotapes from potential contestants.
The series, co-produced by Endemol USA, will air this summer. CBS is still mulling how many times per week the show will air and when it will debut.
The deal with Shapiro and Grodner locks them in for two more seasons, though the second year is contingent on the series getting renewed for summer 2004. "Early Show" co-anchor Julie Chen is expected to return as host.
"('Big Brother') has become a huge franchise for us," said CBS alternative programming guru Ghen Maynard. "The show's a blast, and it's just so cool how many twists and turns you can have on a show where things happened just a day or two (before air time.)"
Shapiro said he and Grodner couldn't imagine not coming back as producers of "Big Brother."
"We were honored that CBS asked us to do it," he said. "And we will be coming up with new twists and turns in the game to leep it fresh and exciting and unpredictable."
Grodner added that the basic format of the show would remain the same -- a group of strangers is confined to the inside of a house for a couple of months, deprived of contact with the outside world, while cameras and microphones record their every move 24 hours a day. Every week, a different "house guest" is kicked out, with the last one left in the house winning a cash jackpot.
"It's not about messing with the format," she said. "The challenge will be mixing it up yet again with something that's unexpected. It's a balancing act."
"Big Brother" has been one of CBS's chief summer tentpoles the past two seasons, adding audience every year it's been on. The series frequently won its time slot in the key demographic of adults 18 to 49 last summer.
While this summer promises to be the most competitive warm-weather season ever for broadcast TV -- with dozens of new and returning reality formats set to bow --- Grodner believes "BB4" will be able to compete.
"We had a steady audience that grew all last summer, so I think people will be looking for it," she said.
Shapiro and Grodner have a busy development slate in the works as well as two new reality shows set to premiere in the coming weeks.
"Family Business," which follows a family-run adult-entertainment dynasty, premieres Saturday night on Showtime before settling into its regular Friday slot. And next month, the Shapiro/Grodner-produced reality series "The Family" begins a multiweek run on ABC.