One of Julie Chen Moonves’ most endearing qualities is that she never takes herself too seriously. Just look at the way she adopted the originally derisive nickname of the Chenbot as her own. So it stands to reason that the host would not get too bent out of shape about some of the snafus that sprung up during the live two-hour Big Brother: All-Stars premiere. In fact, she can laugh about them, knowing such hiccups are ultimately what give live shows that element of charm that pre-packaged episodes lack.
In the first of her weekly All-Stars Q&As with EW, the host talks about the “strange” circumstances of the COVID-impacted move-in, all those table mazes, the sealed-shut door to the Have Nots room, and whether Cody made the right move in winning the first Head of Household.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, tell us what it was like for you standing on the stage, going live with no audience, and with all the new safety precautions you all put in place. How did it feel?
JULIE CHEN MOONVES: It felt strange. Everything feels strange. Sure, we are all happy to be back at work, to have a job, and to be working in a safe environment. All the safety precautions being taken are impressive and I am grateful. I pray this season of BB provides some much-needed relief and laughs for all of us while moving to a new chapter where houseguests can respectfully disagree and maybe show America we might not all see eye to eye but can’t we all get along? That hope of mine extends to everyone watching the show as well. We’ve all been in quarantine for five months now… and now we all know firsthand how hard it is.
A lot of big names returning for this All-Stars season. Who were you most excited to see back on that stage 12 feet away from you?
David! I think I had him winning it all in the office pool last summer. I would love to see him last to finale night and then how far he can take it. I loved his positivity and quiet wisdom. We need more of that in this world! But it’s impossible to NOT be excited to see Janelle! So memorable, such a great competitor, personality for days, and funny. She’s someone I always love to watch.
Julie, that table maze looked HARD! Were you wondering if anyone from some of those groups would ever finish it in time?
Uh, yeah. And so did my 10-year-old son and my entire family watching with him! After the first round, I was like, “Hmmmm… wouldn’t it be nuts if Christmas won HOH ’cause she had no one else to compete against her in that competition?! Now THAT would be the unexpected!” I am starting to think because we didn’t use our famous line to the houseguests — “expect the unexpected” — that we had that backfire on us and we got the unexpected! Hello? Locked door to the Have Nots room!? I mean…
Cody wins the first HOH of the season. That gives him immediate safety, but also paints him as an immediate threat and means he is about to make a few enemies. Smart move by him or not? I am going to say smart move. Show people you’re a competitor. Make them your ally with the promise of taking them far with you in the game. We know he’s a man of his word. People felt he GAVE away half a million dollars to Derrick in season 16… when he honored his word and kept Derrick over Victoria with his sole vote to evict one of them. You know he is trustworthy.
Finally, have they gotten the Have Not room open yet?
Yes, but I am hiding in there now and I have locked it again because I am so horrified at how that played out on LIVE national TV… and on premiere night! Hey, ya live and ya learn. I wanted to make it a challenge and say on the fly “whoever can get that darn door open won’t have to sleep in there tonight!” Again, joke was on us… expect the, well, you know the rest of the line, Dalton! Gotta run now, Chenbot battery running low…
For more Big Brother news and interviews, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.