'Big Brother' host Julie Chen on Frank, Boogie, and why she has to control her inner Chenbot

Monty Brinton/CBS

It usually takes until at least week 3 for the bonkers behavior to get going in the Big Brother house. Luckily for us, the first week included  an identity revelation (yep, Willie’s a Hantz!), a megalomaniac speech (yep, Hantz will eat his Froot Loops!), and a thrilling Head of Household competition (yep, that was Hantz having a temper tantrum when his new nemesis Frank won!). And as always, guiding us through the choppy waters of crazy is host Julie Chen, who called in to discuss her early thoughts on this season.

How are you feeling about the addition of coaches this season?

I love it. And with this latest twist, I was thinking what would be definitely good for the show and possibly great for Boogie’s game would be if he wins the coach’s challenge, to trade Jen for Willie. He’d have Frank who’s untouchable and Ian who’s an uber-fan. Ian can do well if he tells everyone, “I’ve watched this show since I was 10″ and give them insight into the game. And then he’d have Willie who can be strong but he needs allies. It would shake up the house and give Boogie that cocky confidence that we love to see from him.

But don’t you think Willie is a dead duck?

Not if that move is made. That would force Frank and Willie to make up and band together. And of course if Willie wins [the Power of Veto competition] that’s another savior he may have.

Do you think we could see Dan out of the house in the next week or two?

If Dan wins the coach’s challenge, maybe not. If he were smart he would get rid of Danielle and he could potentially take Willie, but I don’t know if Dan wants to look like the bad guy to Danielle or to America. I think he’s smart enough to be concerned about that. And these coaches are already suspecting that they could enter the house as players.

Is that the plan?

I don’t know myself. Also for me it’s “expect the unexpected.”

Would you like to see the coaches enter the game as players?

I don’t know. As a viewer I would kind of want to see the former winners have to sit on the couch across from me and just kind of eat it. Because they’re so cocky. Not so much Dan because he’s getting smart now. His cockiness diminished when Janelle looped him in that Boogie wasn’t completely loyal to him. The boys were so focused on “we can’t let these girls beat us.” It was an ego thing and I think a sexist thing. That kind of diminished because Janelle is so good. She knows what buttons to push to get the results she wants. She planted the seed in Dan’s head without having to lie.

As a host, do you just want to throw every question Boogie’s way because you know he gives great quote?

He is great television. He’s really like that in real life. And being that it’s his third time in the house he gets why he’s in the house. He loves his 15 minutes and he knows how to expand those 15 minutes. I don’t think it takes too much effort. All you have to do is poke it.

Do you watch the footage every day?

I watch when I’m on the lot. When I’m at The Talk I watch when I can, but I should be watching things for that show. I always read the “Hot Sheets”. They were my idea back in season 2. I was on a plane back and forth doing The Early Show and I said, “I can’t watch the footage all the time because I’m on a plane. Can we designate someone to watch and log things?” That’s the highlight of my day when I get it in my inbox. They have gotten better each year.

Are you addicted to Big Brother After Dark?

I have the advantage of seeing it at 9:00 at night. So I always have it on when I’m washing up and brushing my teeth. Quite often my husband will be like, “What are you doing in there for so long?” And then he’ll make fun of me. But I’ll come out and he’ll be watching.

It’s always a great Big Brother moment when the person who could easily have gone home wins the next HoH. How do you contain yourself when you’re live?

I am screaming internally but I am calling on my inner Chenbot not to show bias. As soon as I go to commercial I always cover my mouth and talk to my live show producer. And I can hear the control room reacting like, “Oh my god!”

Was it stupid for the housemates to keep a strong player like Frank?

Yes and no. I saw their struggle. It made sense that the vote was 5-3. I think some of those players are so heavily influenced by their coaches; they’re newbies. The coach’s twist has added a new layer that even the coaches don’t know how to navigate it. You can’t really come in with a strategy. The good side of keeping Frank is he’s someone who, because he’s strong, can keep you safe if you align with him and the target is also constantly on him because he’s a strong player. What advantage did anyone have to keeping Kara? The players did the right thing if they follow through with the idea of forming an alliance with Frank for 4 or 5 weeks. That way you don’t look like a backstabber when you kick him out. When he becomes a real threat that’s when you have to get rid of him.


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