Big Brother fans know to “expect the unexpected,” but they got a major surprise at the end of the CBS reality show’s live double eviction episode on Thursday night. In her first TV appearance since the forced resignation of her husband, CBS president and CEO Les Moonves, earlier this week, Big Brother host Julie Chen made her support of him clear.
In the final seconds of the live Big Brother Season 20 telecast, Chen bid viewers of the show farewell, saying, “From outside the Big Brother house, I’m Julie Chen Moonves.”
Chen has never referred to herself as “Moonves” in all 20 seasons of Big Brother or during her career as a CBS news journalist or her eight-year hosting stint The Talk. In fact, at the beginning of the live Big Brother episode, she addressed herself as simply “Julie Chen,” which makes it seem that she left her sign-off as the biggest Big Brother blindside of the week. (As a side note, Chen Moonves may have been so caught up in her sign-off surprise that she forgot the name of Big Brother evictee Brett Robinson. The longtime Big Brother host referred to Robinson as “Brent” before she renamed herself Julie Chen Moonves.)
A Big Brother production source told People that behind the scenes, “no one was angry” about Chen’s use of her married name, but producers were definitely surprised.
“It was more like ‘Did she just say that? I can’t believe she just said that,'” the Big Brother insider explained. “Everyone knows that it’s a big ‘f— you’ to CBS that she did it, because she never, ever refers to herself as anything but Julie Chen.”
Big Brother fans and alums were quick to weigh in on Julie Chen’s support of her fallen husband by using his last name after he was fired from CBS amid sexual harassment and assault allegations from at least 12 women.
Big Brother Season 8 winner Dick Donato was vocal about Julie Chen Moonves’ defiant CBS signoff, tweeting, “I feel like Julie threw everyone a big f— you with her sign off of: ‘This is Julie Chen Moonves’ (something she has never done before) She said so much by saying so little. I really think Julie is gone after this season of #BB20.”
Others, including famed publicist Danny Deraney, questioned Chen Moonves and her support of her husband. You can see more viewer reaction to Julie Chen’s surprising Big Brother sign-off below.
Julie literally called Brett “Brent”, called herself Julie Chen Moonves, and glared at the TV. That’s ends one of the best double evictions in Big Brother history #BB20— Andy Marten (@MartenAndy) September 14, 2018
Les Moonves assaulted my client and it looks like dozens of others. How Julie Chen? How Julie can you stand by this?— Danny Deraney (@DannyDeraney) September 14, 2018
Power and status is worth more to you than women's empowerment. This is now your legacy.
I just want to make sure that the Julie Chen Moonves sign off scandal doesn’t over shadow the fact that she also called Brett, Brent... thus destroying what was left of his dignity. #bb20 #JulieChenMoonves #thatwashardtowatch— Heather Brooker (@HeatherBrooker) September 14, 2018
Hours before Chen Moonves’ Big Brother blindside, Page Six posted a picture of the CBS host and her husband of 14 years getting out of their Bentley outside of their Los Angeles home. A moving truck and crew were spotted bringing out packing supplies, but Chen was wearing her wedding ring, Page Six reports.
After initial allegations about Les Moonves surfaced in a report published in the New Yorker in July, Julie Chen took to Twitter to issue a statement in support of Moonves, describing him as “a devoted husband and inspiring corporate leader.” Chen later appeared on The Talk to inform viewers she would not be talking about the topic ever again.
“Some of you may be aware of what’s going on in my life the past few days. I issued the one and only statement I will ever make on this topic on Twitter, and I will stand by that statement today, tomorrow, forever,” Chen said.
Julie Chen has not issued a statement on the most recent allegations against her husband, but her use of his name on Big Brother makes it clear she will continue her support of him. The longtime CBS host has not appeared on The Talk since her husband’s resignation from CBS and there is no word if she will ever return to the daytime talk show she has hosted since 2010.