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“Big Brother”: Round Two

HOLLYWOOD, July 3, 2001–It’s back…but is it better?

CBS unveils Big Brother 2 on Thursday, July 5 (8 p.m. EST), but the show will not appear very familiar to those (few) who watched the first installment last summer.

What has changed? There’s still the $500,000 prize. There’s still the group of 12 strangers forced to live together while being taped by dozens of cameras. But, according to CBS spokeswoman Kristen Withers, not much else remains the same.

“It has been completely revamped by the new executive producer, Arnold Shapiro,” she said. “About the only similarity this year is the title and the fact that Julie Chen is hosting the show.”

As for the major changes to the show’s format, Withers stressed that some new changes will increase the entertainment value of the reality series.

“The interior and exterior of the house are different,” she said. “The bedrooms have been reconfigured coed.

“There will be competitions within the house that will impact how the contestants live in the house. For example, contestants will compete for food, both quantity and type.”

While the house itself and the challenges have changed, one aspect of the show–the possibility of sexual encounters–remains. Although the French version of Big Brother has been plagued with protests lately for its depictions of in-house intercourse, Shapiro said that he is not willing to budge on what the U.S. series will reveal.

“We will see a lot more than we did last summer,” he said. “Nobody is going to tell them what to do, but there could be nudity, romance and sex.”

Even if sex is introduced to this season’s run, will it attract the same stellar ratings that the British version of Big Brother enjoys? What obstacles must CBS’ version overcome to succeed? According to Brian Lowry, TV editor for the Los Angeles Times, viewers want eye-candy, pristine and polished.

“You can’t overlook that the U.S. version was poorly produced,” he said. “[Big Brother] didn’t benefit from its juxtaposition with Survivor, which was its polar opposite in terms of providing an exotic environment instead of an absurdly mundane one.”

Big Brother 2 airs this summer on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.

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