Longtime “Big Brother” host Julie Chen Moonves recently dished all the dirt to E!’s “Daily Pop” about how CBS forced her to host “Big Brother.” Find out what they said to her, who turned the job down first, and which Bravo star she started at CBS with when they were both just teenagers.
Chen Moonves Says CBS Gave Her No Choice About Hosting ‘Big Brother
When “Big Brother” debuted in 2000, CBS wanted “a news person,” according to Chen Moonves, who was working for CBS News at the time. They originally asked Meredith Vieira, but she turned it down — Chen Moonves says at the time, some people might have considered “Big Brother” to be “a little bit trashy.”
“They originally asked Meredith Vieira and she turned it down. I think she was doing ‘The View’ then and she turned it down,” revealed Chen Moonves. “The thinking was here’s this reality show which some people might consider a little bit trashy. Some. Don’t judge, please, people. And they wanted to class it up with a news person and she had been on ’60 Minutes,’ but she was doing ‘The View’ then and she turned it down.”
So then CBS approached Chen Moonves and when she said no, they basically forced her to do it anyway.
“They came to me and then I turned it down and I was told, well, technically we can make you take this job because you work for us, the network, and it can be seen as insubordination. I was like, ‘Excuse me? What?'” recalled Chen Moonves. “But now here I am.”
Chen Moonves previously revealed that CBS only came to her after Vieira turned it down when she was on E!’s “For Real: The Story of Reality TV,” but she neglected to add that she didn’t want the job either.
“I was 29 years old, I had left local news and I got invited to CBS Network News. I was at the network for eight months and I got asked to host ‘Big Brother,’” Chen Moonves said on the special. “And I said, ‘So why did you guys come to me?’ [They said] we needed a journalist. We offered it to Meredith Vieira first and she turned it down and I’m like, ‘So how low was I on the list?!”
Chen Moonves Sometimes Can’t Believe Where She Ended Up
In the interview, Chen Moonves also revealed that she came up at CBS with Bravo host Andy Cohen.
“Not only were we fellow interns still in college at CBS News in 1989, then we worked together covering news at CBS where he was behind the scenes and look at this guy’s career! He owns the world! The world is his oyster! We are still good friends today and we’re parents now and it’s… who knew?!” marveled the “Big Brother” host.
She added, “If you had asked me years ago what was in my future, career-wise and job-wise, I would have never said a reality show and I would have never said daytime talk. I thought my future was news through and through.”
But she loves her job and says she’s good at it because she has no emotions, joking that she’s the “Chenbot,” which is an affectionate name the “Big Brother” fans have for her.
“No emotion, I’m just moving parts here. I don’t wear my emotions on my sleeve because I don’t have any. Chenbot doesn’t have any! They didn’t give that chip into the Chenbot! Sorry!” cracked Chen Moonves.
She also suspects if she were to play “Big Brother,” she “would not make it past a week” because she’s “too trusting.”
“Big Brother” season 23 airs Sundays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.