Are Julie Chen and her band of summer shut-ins ready for primetime in the regular TV season?
According to Variety and Entertainment Weekly, CBS has already begun casting on the sly for a new season of "Big Brother," which could be rushed to the air as soon as February.
With the Writers Guild strike threatening to impact scripted programs for the spring, "Big Brother" would be a major asset for CBS. The Chen-hosted voyeuristic favorite has traditionally occupied three primetime hours per week during CBS' summer months, bringing in a regular stream of young viewers. The show is filmed in a camera-studded box on the CBS lot, so it would require relatively little production prep (though a spring shoot could impact the show's bikini-filled hot tub scenes).
The Variety story mentions the possibility (buzzed in different online circles for years) that the new "Big Brother" season might be a celebrity edition, capitalizing on the number of TV stars left potentially unemployed by a strike.
The show's eighth installment wrapped in mid-September with Dick Donato topping daughter Daniele Donato for the crown.
CBS' already has episodes of "Jericho" in the can, plus additional installments of the game show "The Power of 10." It's unclear how many episodes of other midseason offerings, like the drama "Swingtown," are finished and available to be plugged into the network's schedule depending on how long a strike were to go.
CBS reps offered no comment.