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The Big Brother season 18 premiere is less than a week away and the twist speculation by super fans won’t stop until Julie Chen pops back on the small screen to spill the secrets. Lucky for crazed fans around the country, The Hollywood Reporter got some answers after joining executive producers, Allison Grodner and Rich Meehan, for a private house tour. And they didn’t hold back.
Will “Battle of the Block” be returning? “No battle of the block!” quips Meehan. Adds Grodner, “A new Sunday competition is coming into play. . .” Check out the full house tour below and see what else the Big Brother bosses had to say about this “new” competition.
Last call for Big Brother flight 18:
Grodner: Welcome to the craziest summer vacation ever. That’s what we’re calling this season. It’s more than just a house theme. This is all part of the twist that’s going to unfold over the summer. Twists, plural, actually. A few of them will be announced on opening night, and many more to come. Here you are in the living room which is the terminal of an airport. That board is the departure board and you will see on opening night what we got there. It has meaning.
Are the chairs against the wall extra? Those aren’t there every season.
Grodner: Those are all new.
Are they twist-related?
Grodner: They’re just part of the feel of being in an airport. It’s a high-end airport terminal. Everyone is going to arrive and depart in this room. We’re going to have some fun with that. There’s a lot of fun to be had with this theme. The twists are all themed into what we did with the house this year. You could walk around and pinpoint all the memories. This is where Devin stood—
Meehan: And called his 18th house meeting! We do have lots of twists and turns throughout the whole summer. It’s the craziest summer vacation ever because people are coming across the country to be locked away and not go anywhere for 99 days!
What have been some of your favorite memories that have to do with the actual house?
Grodner: Dan’s funeral takes place there in that living room. A lot of memories are in that living room. The house meetings get called there if you remember Devin [Shepherd] in season 16.
Meehan: The “Have Not” room from two seasons ago when Nicole [Franzel] said Derrick [Levasseur] reminded her of Dan and he made sure she was evicted.
Grodner: We have the craziest Have Not room you’ve ever seen.
Meehan: You’re not going to want to be a Have Not. It’s going to be pretty miserable.
Grodner: But another sort of summer destination.
Time for Tokyo:
Grodner: It’s the craziest summer vacation, but you’re actually not going to go anywhere. We have destination rooms that represent different cities. Welcome to Tokyo! James [Huling] and Clay [Honeycutt] fought right here, right where you’re standing.
Meehan: The big head butt!
Will you tell the houseguests that it says alliance and eviction on the wall in here?
Grodner: No, no. Maybe they’ll figure it out, maybe someone actually speaks Japanese. We have quite a diverse cast this year. Really diverse.This is that pop, Tokyo, fun, probably the more female room.
Time to hop across the pond. Next stop, London:
Grodner: Here we have a phone booth and you open it up and it goes to the next room. It’s a working phone. The Head of Household will be able to call down. That’s a first and it’s a first to have this kind of door way.
Meehan: Welcome to London! This is where I’d hangout this summer.
Meehan: I just like the vibe of it. It feels cozy and comfortable, a good stress release being in here.
Grodner: There’s tea and crumpets and top hats.
Meehan: Which room would you choose?
This one, it’s secluded, good for plotting.
Grodner: It seems quieter, right? Like you can actually sleep in here.
Grab your pots and pans. Will there be a repeat of Evil Dick Donato’s terror?
How many glasses get broken per season?
Grodner: It’s all plastic! We don’t give them glass! We don’t give them glass or sharp knives actually, that just doesn’t happen here.
Who’s ready to see the new backyard?
Grodner: The backyard is completely different. You can the national parks theme going on here. There’s Yosemite. . .
Meehan: This is our big change to the house this year.
Grodner: We haven’t done this before, we’ve sort of brought out the sitting area. And it’s a brand new pool!
Meehan: Brand new pool. Bigger!
Grodner: Considering the puddle we used to have.
Is it deep?
Grodner: I think it’s still six feet.
Meehan: Yeah it’s like five and three [inches] something like that. But the cool part we did for our challenges this year is that we built this step down so we can easily cover the pool and now we can utilize the whole yard when we build our challenges. We used to have to work around the pool and Jacuzzi, now we can actually utilize the entire space.
Grodner: They should be able to enjoy it more. You might be able to do a lap, I don’t know.
Half a lap.
Grodner: Half a lap (laughs). Depends on how tall you are.
How much do houseguests complain about the heat?
Grodner: It’s hot. It’s hot.
Meehan: It does get really hot out here.
Grodner: It does get hot, but we will be putting some more shade in here because it’s ridiculous. This isn’t even a hot day. . .
Meehan: This is actually one of the more breezy days you’ll ever experience back here. With these high walls,usually there’s no wind and it increases the temperature. We’re going with a lot of CrossFit gym equipment. We’re revamping all of the equipment this year. From boxes for box jumps, ropes, we’re going to have a set of spinning cycles out here. We’re going to totally update all of the exercise equipment. With CrossFit being such a craze right now, it will be fun for them.
Next stop Nairobi:
Grodner: Welcome to Nairobi. It is a photo safari room, it’s got the tent feel going on. It’s different. It’s deeper, darker tones than some of the other rooms in the house.
Meehan: I think they’re going to like to hang out here.
Do houseguests always close the door when they’re talking strategy?
Meehan: Oh, yeah!
Gronder: Yeah, they close the door.
London would actually be the best strategizing spot.
Grodner: That’s the plan!
Meehan: Yeah, for sure.
Grodner: That’s the room that usually gets a lot of strategy play.
Time to see take a flush in the Caribbean:
Grodner: There’s the famous shower where it’s either hot or cold.
Does the shower door get lower every year?
Grodner: No (laughs). I think that’s just a tall person. Tall women don’t fare well in there.
I’m way too tall to get in there.
Meehan: Those doors do look lower. Those doors do look lower, Allison.
Grodner: Do they really?
Meehan: Yeah, I think they’re new.
Grodner: Maybe it’s a crazy joke.
Meehan: We’re going to have to do a test in there.
Grodner: During rehearsals, yes.
Who wants to see my HoH room?
Grodner: This was the sky bridge last year.
Meehan: Which was the see through, transparent floor.
Grodner: No it’s cozier, more like the admirals lounge.
Meehan: This is much more comfortable than last year.
Grodner: It will get a little bit more play here. last year it was awkward to sit up here.
Yeah, people didn’t sit up here last year.
Grodner: They didn’t because it didn’t feel like a room, it felt like you were totally exposed. And now it’s a nice vantage point. It’s comfortable up here.
Meehan: I would hang out up here.
There really is a microphone right above the HoH bed?
Meehan: They’re everywhere. They’re anywhere anyone can sit, hangout. Plus there’s other microphones hidden around so no one can see them.
Grodner: I really like this room. The deep purple pillows, I like it. He knows what to do. Scott [Storey] knows how to make me like a room, put purple in it.
Do you have a new set designer?
Grodner: No, no, since season six. Since we moved into this. Scott has been creating the crazy. There is the head of household phone so they can call downstairs, dial out only.
Meehan: We got this really new, high-tech phone.
Grodner: I think a lot of the 20-somethings are going to wonder what that is. That will be the first twist looking at the phone, “What is that? What do we do this?” Can’t you see that? Like monkeys.
Can they ever go over the intercom and talk to people?
Grodner: No, no, that’s reserved for us.
Meehan: They just yell when they need to call a house meeting.
Grodner: And we have a phone booth up here, another phone so you see there’s some communication thing going on here. You never know what a phone booth up here can do.
Meehan: Only time will tell.
I’m trying to read your faces to find out.
Meehan: (Laughs) Only time will tell!
Grodner: Did you figure it out now? (Laughs).
Let me go to the diary room and try to:
Do you like when houseguests do secret handshakes in between votes?
Grodner: You know … it started a few years ago.
Meehan: It was 16, those guys did it.
Grodner: Look, otherwise it’s just people walking, so why not? So here if you sit right here this is what the houseguests see. They look into the camera and —
Meehan: They hear a voice.
Grodner: They hear a voice and they don’t see us, which is different from any other show. There’s no visual cues that the interviewer can give them. It’s just an interview via voice.
Meehan: Great moment in here, Zach [Rance] melting down to the camera, saying just give Frankie [Grande] the money because he’s going to help kids in Africa.
Grodner: Yeah, I remember that. We’ve had a lot of great moments in here. How about the moment with Audrey [Middleton] last year covered up with the sunglasses and blanket.
Meehan: Who refused to leave for—
Grodner: Who refused to leave the diary room for almost an entire day.
What was that like?
Grodner: Not always fun (laughs). That’s where we stay late and deal with it and whatever. She was having a moment. She was absolutely fine.
Meehan: This is where people come to—
Meehan: It’s the only escape from the rest of the house, so they use it as a sanctuary to release or get away or take a moment.
Last season people said they could hear Johnny Mac’s diary rooms. Is that true?
Grodner: Sometimes. I don’t think they could hear what he was saying, but he had such a high, squeaky voice that sometimes if you’re in the storage room and you have someone who is yelling. It’s really well sound-proofed. We’ve had a few yellers, Johnny Mac, Dan’s one, you don’t hear what they’re saying, but you hear that, “Wah, wah, rah,” noise. So we like it when people don’t yell. You don’t have to yell in here.
Do people ever try to go through that door?
Grodner: No, no because if they do, they’re ousted. We’ve taken people out through that door as you’ve seen with Chima [Simone], “No need to sit down, Chima.” People have gone out. Evel Dick, the year he went out. It’s usually, people don’t go out the front door, they come here and we’re talking to them and they leave if it’s some extreme circumstance. But mostly it’s really just a place for them to come away, out of the game and not be heard. To talk to us, share their thoughts and strategy and crazy meltdowns.
Grodner: There’s a lot of crying! It’s also freezing in here.
People also complain about the cold.
Meehan: Yeah, that’s why they have blankets.
Grodner: If you look all over the house there are so many memories. Chill town in the diary room.
Do you encourage people to do diary rooms together?
Grodner: No, they do it.
Meehan: They decide if they want to do it.
Grodner: The only time it might be is if they’re tied together or something.
Do you like when they do it together?
Grodner: It depends. If it’s too performed, no. We don’t like people to perform for us. We really don’t. If it’s working naturally for them.
Jace and Austin trying to do Shell Town.
Meehan: Yeah, they couldn’t.
Grodner: It was them trying to be Chill Town so we just thought, “Yeah, we’ll make fun of them.” Because you can’t. That was a first and organic. What we love about Big Brother is they really do forget that there’s people behind the scenes and producers and all of that. They really are themselves, much quicker than in other shows.
Meehan: You can’t pretend to be someone for three months. If you put on some sort of facade, it’s coming down pretty quickly.
Grodner: Or, you’re getting evicted because it looks like you’re hiding something.
Grodner: The audience doesn’t like you when you do that and neither do your housemates.
Is “Battle of the Block” coming back?
Oh, it’s not?
Meehan: No battle of the block!
Grodner: A new, Sunday competition is coming into play that will—
Meehan: Twist up the game! It’s going to be fun, something we’ve never done before.
Grodner: Who knows though maybe sometime in the future it will come back.
Meehan: We need to keep the stakes high in the Sunday show because we didn’t want to go back to Have Not competitions.
Grodner: You want competitions that have stakes, that really mean something. This new competition really does that. So the nominations falls somewhere in the middle and then this competition and then, you’ll see.
Meehan: A new ceremony at the end.
Grodner: A new ceremony!
What did you think of the new Big Brother house? When THR took the house tour there were 16 spots on the memory wall. So, who will be the four new players? What do you predict the new ceremony will be? Will you miss Battle of the Block or are you screaming for joy? Sound off in the comments section below and stay tuned to The Live Feed for all things Big Brother.
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