10:30am PT by Brian Porreca
'Big Brother OTT': Former Players Talk Viewers' Vote Impact and the Key to Winning Over America
On Big Brother: Over the Top, America's power to vote is critical. Viewers are able to nominate a houseguest for eviction, vote to evict a houseguest and punish players by making them have-nots.
So far after three evictions, America's nominee has been booted from the game twice. And this week the pressure is on as the houseguests scramble to figure out who America will vote to evict, as that will decide either Neeley's or Scott's fate on Wednesday night. Yes, Whitney's nominated too, but she seems safe, for now.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with former players Rachel Reilly, Evel Dick Donato and Paul Abrahamian to talk all things BBOTT because in a season where viewers crown the winner, all three Big Brother legends know how to play the game while still holding the key to America's heart.
Are you team Ball Smashers or Late-Night Jamboree?
Paul Abrahamian They were all so awkward and quiet when I met them. [It was like] I walked into a funeral, it was so funny. As far as gameplay, I've been watching Justin closely in the sense that he's liked in the house by both sides and he's laying low at the right times. He almost won that competition that I hosted so he's not a terrible player. He just has to be careful and maybe if he keeps laying low and turns up in the end I think he has a solid shot. But then again, who knows because of how much America is involved. It's harder to get behind someone because they can do something and piss America off one week and that's it dude, you blew it!
Evel Dick Donato It's funny to me that all these fans pick sides. I like players. There are so many people that are rooting for Jason this season, [and] I'm sure he's a nice guy, but he's not a player! I can't get behind somebody that is just depending on this America's voting crap in order to get to the end of the game. Here's the perfect example, James [Huling] last season. James in Big Brother 17 I totally liked! He wasn't a great player, but when he was HoH he had balls and just said, "F— it! I'm going to go after big targets." [But] this last season he was on, he was one of the worst players that has ever been on the show. He was absolutely horrible. I absolutely hated him. He did nothing! I like Alex because she's a player. I like Justin on the other side. He's probably one of the best castings on Big Brother in a really long time. Paul was a really good casting last season, don't get me wrong. I really liked Paul, but Justin is so quirky and has so much life experience for such a young guy.
Rachel Reilly: I guess I'm team Late-Night Jamboree, but I love Alex! For me, I'm pro-Alex and anti-Whitney. (Laughs.) She's too genuine for Big Brother. Whitney is like Bridgette [Dunning], they're so nice and you like them as people, but you don't want to see them on Big Brother. I love Jason and I love Justin. I liked Danielle and Shane, but I got frustrated because Danielle talked a big game in the beginning, but hasn't done anything. So I'm rooting for Alex at this point.
In the history of Big Brother, everyone claims all-girl alliances don't work. But this season we have one of the first strong all-girl alliances. Why are the Ball Smashers working so well?
Donato: It's so weird because so many people hate "the plastics." You're a bunch of f—ing hypocritical assholes. For a decade now since season six, you've all been crying and whining that girls can't get it together and form a good, solid alliance. You get these idiots like Spy Girls last season that was a joke and lasted five minutes. They stopped casting strong women and they started casting catty girls is what happened to Big Brother. This season where you have a different casting agent, these girls are smart, they're sticking together and playing the game.
Reilly: It's because of the girls they have this year. They have the sisters who even if they fight they're going to be loyal to each other. And with Shelby, if she had a showmance, she would have ditched the alliance, but there's nothing else for her to do at this point. So she's become actual friends with these girls and that's the glue that's holding them together. Usually the girl alliances don't work because the girls team up with a showmance or the boys.
Do you want Alex and Morgan to tell someone they're sisters? As a viewer, what is the most entertaining way this can play out?
Abrahamian: I didn't even have to know that they're sisters to know they're sisters going into that house. I could tell immediately in person. If I had a sibling, oh lord! All you have to do is say, "Hey sibling, why don't we not hang out 24/7? Not be in the same alliance. You go to that side of the house, I'll go to this side and we constantly keep each other out of the cross fire and we literally know what the whole house is up to!" And that's it, you'll win the god damn game! Of course you want to see someone find out, but I don't know if they will unless they spill the beans. Once they spill the beans, it's over. It's the Big Brother house! You can't fart in a corner without the whole damn world knowing!
Donato: They're obviously not going to because they've been in there close to a month now and haven't told anybody. Normally people can't keep their goddamn mouth closed! Like Tiffany [Rousso], like that was ever even a question, anyhow. And what's his name, that idiot, Paulie Calafiore, where he was like, "I'm Cody's brother!" Dude, if I were you I would have kept that under wraps. Not like your brother was some great player or anything. What was really funny to me last season was Paulie was so focused on Tiffany because Vanessa [Rousso] was a great player, but nobody was focused on Paulie because his brother sucked (Laughs.) Paulie was hated because he was just a douche bag.
Reilly: I love Alex [and] I don't want to ruin her game, but I kind of do at this point! It has to be that the houseguests discover it through some sort of game or puzzle. I would love for them to slip up and tell something, but at this point it will be so anti-climactic if Alex and Morgan say, "Oh hey, Shelby and Whitney, we're actually sisters." And then Shelby and Whitney will be like, "OK, cool!"
What is the key to winning over America?
Donato: I truly believe that [America loves] the people that don't play to the audience and are just themselves. It's funny, I talked to Paul in DMs on Twitter and he's the only person that I've ever heard in 18 seasons of this goddamn show that said the same thing that I did. He said, "I thought I was going to be absolutely hated by the audience." I thought I was hated by the audience! There was no way that I thought that I was liked. I didn't care though! I wasn't there to please the viewing audience. It was all about the game for me. It's half a million dollars! When I went onto Couple's Therapy, the host as well as a number of the other castmates were all like, "How could you be this villain? You're such a nice guy." And I said, "Let me tell you. If they took all of our pay and put it all together in one lump sum and said only one person can walk away with the money, the rest of you are f—ed. I would f— you people up!" That's the difference. It's a completely different show here.
Abrahamian: I thought America hated me! It didn't really matter so much if they hated me or they loved me because my brain was so encompassed with Big Brother. I gave up on America after no care packages like, "All right, everybody hates me so I might as well win this game," and then I lost! And then I found out not everybody hates me so it was a nice pick-me-up. You have to be yourself, dude. That's the key. Your boy isn't the best cup of juice, but he's a cup of juice nonetheless. So whoever likes me, awesome! If they don't like me, awesome! I'm not this way for people to like me. I'm this way because that's how I am. Be yourself. If you're a good person, America will like you.
Reilly: When I was in the house I had no idea that the houseguests hated me so much and I had no idea that America loved me so much. For me as a fan of the show, we love the players that really play the game, make the moves and aren't scared! You have to not care what the house thinks. That's instinctively how I was playing because I didn't care what the house thought. The reason we really love Alex is because we see what she's doing and she tells us what she's doing. We as America see her making moves and we love that she doesn't care what the house thinks. When people pander to America it's super annoying. We get it, you want to win America's favorite. That's what happened with James and Natalie [Negrotti] too much. They just wanted to win America's favorite. And they didn't. Whereas Victor [Arroyo] could care less. He just wanted to be in the house and play the game and that's what we like to see as fans.
What doesn't America like in a player?
Reilly: I don't like watching people like Scott, where it just feels like they're in the house to pander to America. I don't like it when they're playing the game to see what America wants. That's why Kryssie is getting on my nerves because she's just doing things because she thinks that's what America wants also. I know that with BBOTT they have to play to what America wants too because we have too much control, but they're still playing Big Brother! I don't want to see them trying to get America's Favorite or be on America's good side all the time. Even if they're not on our good side, we're not going to punish them if they're playing the game.
Donato: Lying in the diary room! People get pissed. You know who used to do it all of the time? Derrick [Levasseur]. When Derrick did it and he was on Team America and the task was to save Donny [Thompson], Derrick goes into the diary room and is like, "Well, America, I really tried." And at the same time, the live viewing audience is like, "F— you, you lying motherf—er!" Because they loved Donny and they just hated Derrick for doing that and lying to us. There was a lot of backlash with Alex last week because she said she was going to dump her sister and everybody is like, "She's such a liar! She's not going to dump her sister!" If she is telling the truth that would be an enormous mistake, and I'm speaking from experience of playing with a family member that you don't get along with. You have something there that you don't have with anyone else in the house, and that's trust.
What do you like most about this season?
Donato: This is the best cast as a whole since season 10. This new cast reminds me of The Breakfast Club. And then I get people saying [to me], "There's no Judd Nelson. Who is the Molly Ringwald?" Not like that you asshole! I mean just how different everyone is from each other. You don't have three or four stupid meatheads in there. Everybody is very different from each other and that's what I really like about it.
What do you think about America's involvement this season?
Donato: It's off-the-scales too much. It's ridiculous. The one thing I don't like about this season is all the f—ing pandering these assholes are doing to the cameras. The producers had to have told them, "No more pandering and talking to the viewers" because all of a sudden it stopped in the live diary rooms. Before that they were doing it, it was like half their diary room session. "Can you not put me on slop? Put this person up!" And I'm like, 'Shut the f— up man! This is bullshit!' And even though they're not doing it in the live diary rooms now they're still doing it to the cameras all of the time. And what's really funny is that these motherf—ers watching the show actually believe that they're playing the game. It's like a drunken guy watching football on television. You're not throwing the pass!
Abrahamian: It's different from a game player's perspective and a viewer's perspective. As a viewer, having all of the control is fun because it's like playing real-life Sims! You can make decisions and shit on people stuck in a house! Pretty weird, but pretty cool! But as a game player, I'd be so pissed if I was working on some shit and America just bones me last-minute! As a game player, I would be pissed to be in the Big Brother: Over the Top house. Granted, people say, "If it was like that on your season, you would have won!" But it wasn't!
If America had this much power on your season, how would your season have been different?
Abrahamian: It would've been way different! People hated me the first two episodes. Apparently the way I was edited or the way I came across, people weren't down. Maybe I would've been voted out week one.
Donato: Who knows! The audience went from hating me to loving me to hating me to loving me. They probably would have f—ed me then rewarded me, f—ed me then rewarded me. (Laughs.)
Reilly: In season 12, I would have been tortured! (Laughs.) America would have voted everything bad for me, but I think they would have kept me around. They wouldn't try to get rid of me because at least I was causing some conflict. But in Big Brother 13, it would have worked in my favor so I would have been very happy about that. But then you have to remember if America had as much control you have to play a different game. I love how production did that because it really is two different games.
Would you want to watch Evel Dick, Rachel and Paul play Big Brother at the same time? THR has the next best thing. Tune in to The Hollywood Reporter Facebook page on Wednesday at 1:45 p.m. PT for a Facebook Live chat with Rachel and Paul.