by pat howard

BB8 | ‘Brother’ the hellmouth for CBS’s promo dept.

In Big Brother, Big Brother: After Dark, CBS, House Calls, Internet, ShoToo, The Chenbot on August 25, 2007 at 11:51 am

I’ve long maintained that two things have kept Big Brother on the air in the lean times: 1) its host is married to the president of CBS; and 2) it’s a flagrant promotional tool for the network, its corporate parent, and whatever other quasi-related properties they can manage to drag in sideways.

This week, the Big Brother promotion machine has hit fever pitch, essentially opening the hellmouth at the CBS promo department and bombarding viewers with countless opportunities to get sucked farther in. I’ll now take you through Thursday’s hourlong live eviction and point out the cross-branding as it occurs (hope you packed a lunch):

  • Julie Chen, our mistress of ceremonies, is the aforementioned wife of CBS president Les Moonves. In addition to Big Brother hosting duties each summer, Chen is the L.A.-based anchor for the network’s third-place morning program, The Early Show. (The Chenbot only appears on BB once each week, sadly.)
  • Each BB episode is flanked with spots promoting: the show’s $3.99/month cell phone content service; the subscription-based live, 24/7 Internet feeds from inside the house; and House Calls, the Big Brother Internet talk show.
  • In this week’s veto competition, houseguests Amber and Daniele won a trip outside the house to the set of the new CBS game show Power of 10.
    • Power of 10 is hosted by Drew Carey, who next month will take the reins at another CBS institution, The Price is Right.
    • The Power of 10 episode featuring contestants Amber and Daniele will air Tuesday at 8 p.m./ET, immediately preceding a new episode of BB8 on CBS.
  • A variety of CBS’s other programming is promoted before and during the show, as well as in traditional commercial breaks.
  • Each week’s evicted houseguest (this week’s was Jen) immediately joins the Chenbot “outside” the house for a quick exit interview. From there, the blitz continues with a Friday morning appearance on The Early Show (again with Chen) and an interview on House Calls, the Big Brother Internet talk show at
  • Julie wraps up each week’s live show with some slight variation on the following orgy of corporate synergy:
    • “Who will Jessica nominate for eviction? Find out Sunday at 8/7c. On Tuesday at 8/7c, see what happens when Amber and Daniele face off on the new CBS game show, Power of 10. Then, at 9, see how the houseguests react when they find out where Amber and Daniele went and how one of them did. And I’ll be back one week from tonight at 8 for the next live eviction. And don’t forget, Big Brother After Dark airs live each night from midnight to 3 a.m. on Showtime Too. And to follow the houseguests’ every move, log on to and subscribe to the live, 24-hour Internet feed. For now, let’s eavesdrop on the houseguests. From outside the Big Brother house, I’m Julie Chen. Have a good night.”

It must be an exhausting speech, but you do what you have to do when you’re spending your summers propping up the promo department for a corporate giant’s broadcast media interests.

ELSEWHERE | BB8 EP Allison Grodner talks with Entertainment Weekly about the BB8 season so far


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