11:56am PT by Brian Porreca
'Big Brother' Host Julie Chen Teases Season 19 Finale and Upcoming Celebrity Edition
Big Brother's finale night has arrived.
On Wednesday, either Christmas Abbott, Paul Abrahamian or Josh Martinez will walk away as the season 19 winner. So, who will it be? Or an even better question, who is host Julie Chen rooting for?
The Chenbot jokes to The Hollywood Reporter, "'Rooting' is a strong word. Josh towards the end redeemed himself when you saw his conscience."
Below, ahead of the finale, Chen talked on the phone further with THR about this season as a whole, the criticisms the show has faced and what fans can expect for the upcoming celebrity edition of the CBS series. Hint: You may be singing "Bye Bye Bye."
Which exit interview this summer was your favorite?
Probably Cody. He showed a human and much lighter side than we saw in the house. That was surprising and helped him connect more with the audience. It showed that he had a lighter side to him than this angry hothead with a chip on his shoulder in the house. It was pleasant to see that he actually is a human being! He was more engaging and smarter than some viewers have given him credit for. In this game, you always root for the underdog. People said, "Oh, no, Cody! Why did you get bounced so soon?"
That is purely being at the mercy of the timing live show. Sometimes when people take too long to exit the house, then that comes out of your exit interview. [But] sometimes you do have an extra minute to talk to whoever is getting evicted and you're like, "Alright, I don't think I have that many burning questions for you, Raven." You have to do a little bit of predicting and guessing. The person you have burning questions for you don't have time, and the person you don't have any questions for you have three minutes to fill and are, like, "Oh, my gosh."
Which houseguests this season are the top contenders to win "America's Favorite Houseguest"?
Kevin was popular throughout for a multitude of reasons. Jason, especially finding out his wife was pregnant, he was a very likeable guy. Jessica and Cody became the down-and-out underdogs to root for. I wouldn't count them out. Paul's one of these love-him-or-hate-him people. He's very polarizing. I don't know if his fans will outweigh those who this year decided they don't like him.
Why do you think some fans were rooting against Paul this season?
I guarantee you that Paul has no idea. Part of the reason his popularity started to drop this year was because of his arrogance, and he was a completely different game player this year. Last year, he was about friendship and this year he said, "Screw friendship. This is about winning." What I've learned from so many seasons is that we don't like arrogance.
How do you respond to criticisms that this summer was the season of bullying?
Every season of Big Brother we've compared it to high school and shallow little cliques. This summer was absolutely different and other summers have been worse. If you ask some of the people who viewers felt were being bullied, I guarantee you they would probably say no. You will see that these houseguests are bonded for life.
The show does have a younger audience. Do you think an opportunity was missed to address the bullying issue?
I have a child who has watched the show, and any bad behavior in the house I always ask him, "What did you think of what so and so did?" Kids know right from wrong. I always use that as my teaching opportunity. I [say], "See how ugly that behavior is? Did you see the outburst? Is that a good look? No. Is that someone who you want to show up in life and be? No. Don't be that person."
Who are you rooting for to win this year?
"Rooting" is a strong word (laughs). The person who has severe drawbacks is Christmas. It's not her fault, but how do you root for someone with a broken foot? That broken foot made a little bit of a mean side to her show itself. You saw this fierce competitive person and then you saw that mean side when she turned on Kevin that one day and was kind of psycho. That was ugly. No one likes ugly. Say what you will about Josh, he's an emotional wreck — did he display boy scout behavior? Absolutely not, but he for me is the most rootable one. Josh towards the end redeemed himself when you saw his conscience.
Who do you think will actually win?
I've seen the jury sway back and forth from being logical to a roller coaster of emotions of being bitter and reliving their personal wounds. I want to say the majority might like Josh a little bit more against Paul — begrudgingly, I think they might give him the win. But I don't think it's going to be a landslide.
What are you hoping to see for Big Brother's milestone 20th season next summer?
There's always something I love about discovering new people and forming opinions of these new characters. Ultimately, the smart choice would be to have the majority, if not everyone, being a brand-new person that we've never met before and just have a crazy new twist. I'm not sure what that's going to be, but that's going to be the key with season 20.
Since the announcement of the celebrity edition of Big Brother, there have been some stars who have publicly expressed their interest in joining. Do you know of any talent currently pitching themselves to the network?
Oh, yes. I won't say names, but maybe more than one member of *NSYNC is trying to get in there. I just came from a Big Brother meeting and they didn't give me any names. They just said they're getting tons of calls from agents and are starting to take meetings. And I saw that Anthony Scaramucci is following some of the Big Brother houseguests and [executive producer] Allison Grodner on social media. Maybe he's doing research, I don't know.
What else can you tease about the newest edition?
It's going to be more intense than what you're used to seeing because it's going to be concentrated. Picture everything about Big Brother, but nonstop action because it's going to be on a fast-forward button.
Do you think you'll be seeing a member of *NSYNC walk through the Big Brother doors? And what are you looking forward to most about Wednesday's finale? Sound off in the comments section below, and make sure to stay tuned to the Live Feed for all things Big Brother.