UPDATE: 8:53 AM: CBS put an end to those embarrassing record-low ratings Big Brother has been suffering this season (at least temporarily) by airing the racist and homophobic remarks made by contestants during the show’s webcast. About 6.3 million tuned in to see what the kerfuffle was all about on Sunday’s Very Special Big Brother episode devoted to the controversy; Big Brother was the only primetime broadcast show of the night to break a 2 rating among 18- to 49-year-olds. That boilerplate statement CBS has been using over the years, in re racist, homophobic, etc. remarks made by Big Brother competitors, has included a reminder that the network makes a distinction between the show’s broadcast and its webcast. But this being the summer of Paula Deen and the George Zimmerman trial, and Big Brother limping along with record low ratings, it seemed inevitable the network would air a Very Special episode about the comments made by some of the players. For those catching up: On this season of Big Brother, we’ve learned the high price of seeking fame in Hollywood by slinging slurs in the BB house; so far two of this season’s contestants, Aaryn Gries and GinaMarie Zimmerman have been sacked from their day jobs because of their racist remarks on the show, while Spencer Clawson’s employer, at press time, had slapped his wrist.
Not coincidentally, ‘Big Brother’ host Julie Chen also weighed in the next morning on The Talk – which she co-hosts. “Those things, in my opinion … felt mean-spirited. It felt ugly and it felt mean,” she said of the comments that originally ran on the show’s webcast. Chen confessed she was surprised to discover that a 22-year-old, college educated woman would make “anti-gay, anti-black, and anti-Asian comments.” Apparently Chen, who has hosted the U.S. version of Big Brother since its debut in 2000, hasn’t been watching “Big Brother’s” webcast all those years she’s been hosting the show.
“It took me back to the ’70s when I was growing up in Queens and I was 7-years-old getting bullied…I thought, ‘Wow, I haven’t heard comments like that [in years].’ The year is 2013. I felt ignorant — there are still people in the country who feel and act that way?”
PREVIOUSLY, WEDNESDAY PM: CBS hit pay dirt when the Paula Deen/N-word story broke just as the network was revving up the 15th season of its Big Brother reality competition series. The network has achieved a lot of support among younger viewers for this show, in which millennials who’ve been carefully cast for their willingness to toss aside all dignity and every other noble quality shack up together in a made-for-TV house that’s been outfitted with loads of cameras and audio. Big Brother has a great track record of contestants making racist and homophobic remarks. And CBS has a great track record of issuing its boilerplate statement — like it did late yesterday — tsk-tsk-tsk-ing the contestants’ slurs and reminding us this show is a social experiment and the network is in no way connected to the contestants’ views. This appeals to younger viewers — Big Brother is the network’s youngest-skewing summer series and one of its youngest skewing of all its programs over the course of the calendar year. So successful is the reality competition series among younger viewers that the network said yesterday it’s moving one of BB’s three nights of broadcast to Thursday at 8, to make sure Big Brother viewers see many promos for the net’s younger-skewing sitcoms, airing in that very same hour during the “official” TV season.
Sure enough, almost immediately after its season debut, the Big Brother live feed, which runs online only, caught two competitors making racist and homophobic remarks about fellow housemates, sending the Reporters Who Cover Television, who are looking for ways to keep going their Paula Deen-story web traffic, screaming for joy. Read More »