'Big Brother' Bosses Talk Season Finale, Nicole's Critics and Jury House Live Feeds

Big Brother Final Three - H - 2016
Sonja Flemming/CBS

The end is near for Big Brother season 18.

In fact, it's one day away as Paul, Nicole or James will be crowned the newest winner on Wednesday night.

Who will take home the $500,000? Well, according to the brains behind Big Brother, executive producers Allison Grodner and Rich Meehan, it's anyone's game. "What I'm happy about is that you can make an argument for all three of them," Grodner tells The Hollywood Reporter.

THR got on the phone with both Big Brother bosses to get their take on Nicole's game play, jury house live feeds, the possibility of another all-stars season and much more. 

What did you think of Nicole's game play? It's the reverse Rachel Reilly effect. In season 12, Rachel was hated by America, but turned it around and everyone loved and rooted for her to win her second time around. For Nicole in season 16, she was a fan favorite, but this time, although she still has some fans, most superfans and alumni are extremely critical of her game.

Allison GrodnerShe didn't get nominated the entire time until just this past week. She came to play. To go an entire season as a veteran where the spotlight and target are already on you and to make it to the end like this is pretty amazing. Instead of attaching herself to the girls, she attached herself to the guys and played with them and was an equal partner in the alliances. And I think they would say the same. And she won when she needed to win. She played a pretty strong game. It's hard to fault her.

Why do you think people do fault her, though?

Grodner: I'm actually not sure. Rich, do you have an opinion on that? And maybe you know, Brian. I've seen it. I've certainly seen the negativity about her online and I'm not sure why. It's hard to say. I'm not saying this is the case, but sometimes I look at how men and women are treated differently. There's a double standard in terms of them being an aggressive game player if you're a man and being applauded for it. And being a sneaky, "backstabby" game player as a woman and suddenly maybe you're a bitch. (Laughs.)

Everyone rooted for her the first time because she was an underdog and now she's not. 

Grodner: Yeah and that happens with anyone, male or female. I don't know and I was trying to figure it out. I've definitely seen that there is that different viewpoint, but I don't know.

Rich Meehan: We were just talking about this. This final three it seems like everyone you talk to is rooting for different people. There's not one clear-cut person. Maybe because people have strong opinions about everybody, that's why some people don't like her as much. Maybe they feel like Paul played a better social game or James was nicer or whatever it is. I have talked to a lot of people who are rooting for her. I'm not quite sure if there's anything you can point to from a backlash point of view.

Grodner: Other than maybe because people saw her differently in that first season and now she was actually being a more aggressive player. People inside the house call her a snake, I'm not exactly sure why that is …

Julie called her a snake too!

Grodner: (Laughs.) She went where she needed to go to win. It's interesting because it becomes so subjective and you see that with the jury too.

Meehan: It also happens if a player strikes first against someone that fans really like, suddenly by default they don't like them. They made a move against Victor and Victor was really well liked. Throughout the game, she has made moves against people that fans really liked. And then suddenly you become …

Grodner: You become hated. But honestly it's hard to tell. What we appreciate the most about all of that though is that there are strong opinions out there. (Laughs.) We've had quite an active social media scene which means that hopefully people are interested enough to talk about it. It's better than them not talking about it, right?

Meehan: It's a good final three. They're all different. They have all played the game differently and we don't know who's going to make the final two, but those two will both have good arguments about why they should win the game. 

Grodner: In the past, we've had players where we've been like, "Oh no!" You know? How did they get there? They were purposely dragged to the end in some way. You don't have that here.

Meehan: Or you have a clear-cut like season 16 where you know Derrick [Levasseur] behind the scenes was controlling that whole game and when he gets to the end you're like …

Grodner: It's a no-brainer.

Meehan: All three of them played the game well. I don't think any of them were puppet masters, but they all made moves, they were all part of a big duo, they were all in different alliances and they shifted and slid back and forth. That's what this season seems to be in my opinion. It's when you're in an alliance for a while and then you betray your alliance at the right time to take out other people in the game and all of them did that.  

Grodner: We had three very strong duos make it to the end. Two were showmances and one was the bromance and now you have one half of each duo in the final three, which is also really interesting. That's never happened before. If anything, we always look for interesting stories and root for that our season.

Meehan: They'll each have someone arguing their merits at the jury roundtable. They each have someone in there.

Grodner: Their ride or dies are there to back them up in the jury, which is also interesting.

Over the years, what has been your favorite final three and least favorite final three?

Grodner: Wow! (Laughs.) You're making me remember stuff!

Meehan: I remember the final twos more than the final threes.

Grodner: Yeah, that's the thing.

Meehan: I thought the Dan [Gheesling] and Ian [Terry] final two was really …

Grodner: Awesome.

Meehan: Because they both played a really great game. Dan's game that season was probably the most legendary game play, in my opinion. But he also left a trail of very angry houseguests in his wake. Whereas Ian played a really great game and didn't do that. So from a final two of game play that was a great season. There's always that third wheel that gets taken to the final three and is taken by some sort of dominant player. That seems to happen more often than not and it didn't happen this season.

Do you have a least favorite?

Grodner: I'll just take the fifth on that. (Laughs.)

With Paulie and Da'Vonne's jury fight that aired, production had to step in. Throughout the show's history, fans never really see production. Were you disappointed that the behind-the-scenes curtain had to be unveiled like that?

Grodner: It's different because you don't see that with Big Brother when that's happened in the past because we don't have cameramen in the house or producers in the house. We are controlling that from outside the house, from overhead, from speakers. This was a little more of a traditional situation that you would have on other shows where the crew is right there and the producers are right there to step in quite easily. 

We still never see production though, even in the jury house.

Grodner: We've never had a situation like that! This is a first for Big Brother. And obviously we are happy that the producer stepped in so that it didn't turn into something that we wouldn't want to happen there. We didn't want anyone to get hurt. 

Will there ever be jury house live feeds?

Grodner: We personally have a lot to handle as it is! So the idea of juggling that and the jury house is a bit insane and a little much. But we get it. People have asked for it. I will say that this jury has been a really active jury. There's been some really fun jury packages. I don't think that's always the case.

Meehan: I don't know truthfully how exciting it would be. Once they go to jury they're allowed to decompress. They're allowed to listen to music. They're allowed to read books.

Grodner: They watch a lot of movies. 

Meehan: When we show up for the cameras and they're watching what the events that happened the previous week [are], that's what gets them excited to talk and fire it up, but after that it completely dissipates back down to everyone just hanging out. It's not that fiery all the time. 

Grodner: It's hard to say because it would be a lot of investment.

Meehan: And they're not in the game anymore. Yes, they have to vote for the winner and they have strong opinions about that, but it's not like they're gaming 24/7 like they are in the house. There would be 99 percent downtime in there.

Grodner: That being said, we hear it. People say it a lot and obviously this season has made that louder as far as wanting to see more of the jury house. Maybe there's a way of getting a little more content from the jury house in the future. You never know.

How would you handle another fight between Paulie and Da'Vonne if it happened at the live finale?

Meehan: In the heat of the moment things flare up. They've already mended fences a little bit. I don't know if we're worried about a fight breaking out onstage. Allison, are you worried about it?

Grodner: I'll tell you this: We'll have security!

Paulie was an early favorite and now superfans aren't really the biggest fans of his. Victor, on the other hand, in the beginning people weren't a fan of his, but now everyone's rooting for him to win "America's Favorite Houseguest." What do you make of that switch? What are the causes for both of them?

Grodner: It happens a lot because of how long we are [on]. You get to really see people 24/7 and it's hard for people to be one way the whole time. It's interesting. I don't think any of us would have necessarily predicted how the fans would react or the people themselves would change in the house. It seems like there are two very different stories. Victor was humbled. He came in with a lot of bravado and very loud and very cocky. And by getting evicted so early, was humbled. Then he won his way back in and changed his game play and attitude. Not a lot of people are capable of that. Paulie came in playing a pretty stealth, low-key game, but once he got some power and he started to win things and felt untouchable, he got cocky.

Meehan: You make a snap judgment off of someone right away and then you get to watch them over three months change. It happens every season where people who were liked in the beginning become not liked. There are a lot of different reasons for it.

Grodner: Which is unlike any show out there. You watch them live, you watch them on the show evolve. I think it goes back to what you even said earlier. The underdog scenario does play a big role in all of this. 

Should I just put the all-stars question to rest? What has been the biggest hesitation with doing another all-stars season? Do you consider it every year?

Meehan: Yeah, we talk about it.

Grodner: We talk about it and I think you want to make sure that it's right. What is so interesting about this show is seeing people who haven't played. People who aren't super superfans go in there and figure it out again.

Like Paul.

Grodner: Yeah, like Paul. He's a really interesting example. He really did not know this game and it was evident at the very beginning of the season.

Meehan: Neither did Victor.

Grodner: But they're smart and they figured it out. It had a feeling to me of how it was in the beginning. I'm not saying he's Dr. Will [Kirby] by any means, but in season two when no one knew and you saw Dr. Will and Nicole [Nilson] in season two figure it out. And we all figured out with them how to play this and it was great. It's fun to see someone figure it out again. 


Why do you think there hasn't been another all-stars season? Do you think security will be needed at the finale because of Paulie and Da'Vonne? If you were on the jury this season who would you vote for to win the game? See who THR's jury picked here. Sound off in the comments section below and stay tuned to The Live Feed for all Big Brother finale coverage.