‘Big Brother 18’: Julie Chen Reveals Why Her Money Is On Paulie Calafiore To Win It All

Big Brother 18 started off as all about the veterans and the siblings. While most of this year’s players are new to the game, four have played it before and two are related to former houseguests who did extremely well. Tiffany Rousso’s sister Vanessa placed third last year, and Paulie Calafiore’s brother Cody placed second on Big Brother 16.

According to host Julie Chen, those Big Brother siblings have taken their family members into the house with them. But in Rousso’s case, it was her downfall, as she was evicted last week. Calafiore, however, might use some of the same assets as his brother Cody to take home the top prize of $500,000.

Chen made the comments to Entertainment Weekly in response to a question about whether Calafiore’s prominent position in the house will serve him well.

“I think Paulie is in an excellent position. He is good at winning comps. He is friendly with everyone. He is trustworthy just like his brother Cody was and he is not seen as a threat by anyone. He is my bet to win it all.”

It has yet to be seen whether Paulie will show the same intense loyalty as his brother Cody on the Big Brother 16. As Cody revealed in a post-season interview with Hollywood Reporter, he was comfortable taking his close ally Derrick Levasseur to the final two despite losing the jury vote and coming in second. As the winner of the last Head of Household, Calafiore had the option to evict either Derrick or Victoria. Conventional wisdom would have had Cody take Victoria to the final two since he could surely beat the perpetual floater in the jury vote.

In the same interview with Entertainment Weekly, Julie Chen said it was Paulie’s knowledge of Vanessa’s game that led to her sister’s downfall. This was despite the fact that, for a moment, it seemed the siblings might form a solid alliance to the end.

“If Vanessa had never been a houseguest, Tiffany would have had much less of a target on her back. Don’t forget, she was evicted under Paulie’s watch as HOH. He saw how emotional and dangerous and untrustworthy Vanessa was and because of that he wanted Tiffany out ASAP! She probably could have lasted a lot longer if no one knew she was Vanessa’s sister.”

Given the striking physical resemblance between Tiffany and Vanessa, right down to their mannerisms and propensity for emotional outbursts, there was little hope Tiffany would be able to hide her relationship to the professional poker player.

Chen is best known to Big Brother fans as the show’s long-time host — she’s been anchoring evictions since Season 1 of the program — but she’s also part of CBS royalty. She’s married to CBS Chairman and CEO Les Moonves and hosts the network’s successful daytime chat show The Talk.

Another fun fact about Chen: Back in the 1980s, the New York-raised future journalist used to dress up as Madonna. In an interview with the New York Post, Chen said she and her family would make bi-monthly trips from Queens to Chinatown to do shopping. She and her friends would take the train in the Village to spend the little money they had emulating movie and music icons.

“That was when Madonna and ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ was very popular, and we’d go buy the ‘Risky Business’ sunglasses for, like, three bucks and buy the lace cutoff gloves to look like Madonna from her ‘Like a Virgin’ tour and album. [W]e thought we were so cool.”

While Chen may have pretty much traded in her Madonna attire, she’s still accessible to fans through their televisions weekdays on The Talk and three nights a week on Big Brother 18.

[Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]