Fans of Big Brother know producers love to bring back old players. The last full all-stars season was Big Brother 7 a decade ago, but in Seasons 13 and 14, a large number of the houseguests were taking a second — or third — shot at the big prize. Old favorites often return to host competitions and play head games with the houseguests. Viewers might remember Britney opening Pandora’s Box in Season 12 with the promise of counsel from a senior player, only to reveal Jessie with an hour’s worth of workout advice.
Now, a former player has sparked a rumor that this summer’s installment will be another “best of” year. Janelle Pierzina, herself a multiple season competitor, tweeted that she suspects some old faces will return.
Pretty sure #BB18 will be some sort of All-Stars! How exciting!
— Janelle Pierzina (@JanellePierzina) April 28, 2016
Big Brother Network picked up the news, posting a poll to ask fans if they would like to see a total all-stars season, all new houseguests, or a combination of old and new personalities. But if it really is an all-stars installment this year, CBS is taking great pains to hide that fact, because they held open auditions and invited applications through the show’s website this spring. Applications closed on April 22.
— Big Brother (@CBSBigBrother) March 17, 2016
However, Enstarz reported that the show’s longtime casting director, Robyn Kass, told CBS L.A. that getting the right mix of people was tough this year. Kass said the show always hunts for a good mix of personalities, types, and regional representation, but after so many seasons, it’s become difficult to find that factor that will make contestants stand out.
— Big Brother (@CBSBigBrother) March 23, 2016
“Now, season 18, I just want totally different things, so sometimes it’s more difficult. That being said, sure. If somebody amazing is in front of me – it doesn’t happen all that often, but yeah, sometimes they just have that ‘It Factor’ and you’re like, ‘I want more.'”
Big Brother Network wrote that Austin Matelson, who competed last year on Big Brother 17, also suggested there may be some kind of returning player component to Season 18. But the blog questioned whether that information was trustworthy, making reference to Matelson’s “evil” on-air alter ego, Judas.
BBN recalled the odd dynamic of Big Brother 13, when six former houseguests, made up of three couples, competed alongside new players. The veterans dominated the game in part because the new guests were a bit starry-eyed. Rachel Reilly, one of the veterans, won the season. The following year on Big Brother 14, four houseguests came back to act as coaches but eventually elected to enter the game as players. A newbie, Ian Terry, won that season.
There are many routes to getting cast on Big Brother. In addition to open casting calls, online applications, and being part of the “family” as a previous contestant, many players are recruited by the network. Last year, poker player Vanessa Rousso, who eventually placed third, said she had been in discussions with CBS for some time about some kind of reality show — they were just looking for the right fit.
Big Brother 17 runner-up Liz Nolan told the Hollywood Reporter she was also recruited, along with her twin sister. The women were far into the audition process before they learned they were actually being considered for a spot on Big Brother. Before that, the network was elusive about the specific show on which they might be cast, although the fact that they were twins was important.
Big Brother 18 debuts on June 22, 2016, on CBS.
[Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]