Big Brother has been dealing with racism problems all summer, but now CBS bosses are addressing an inappropriate incident that occurred behind the scenes this season on the summertime reality show.
CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl and Thom Sherman, senior executive vice president of programming, told reporters at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Thursday that a producer who encouraged a black houseguest to behave in a stereotypical manner has been reprimanded, TV Guide reports.
Kahl and Sherman said that the unnamed producer “overstepped” in an attempt to get a Diary Room soundbite from now-evicted houseguest Kemi Fakunle. Fakunle was the victim of alleged bullying on the CBS reality show and was seen in on the live feeds telling other contestants that producers told her to “act black,” per The Hollywood Reporter.
Kahl told reporters he was made aware of the inappropriate situation and the network took immediate action.
“In the case of Big Brother, we learned that a producer in an attempt to get a soundbite from one of the houseguests overstepped. That producer was reprimanded, received unconscious bias training, as did all the producers on the show. We don’t believe that an incident like that will happen again.”
After being questioned as to why some of the instances of racist and bullying behavior seen on the live feeds didn’t always make the Big Brother broadcast, Kahl explained that there are “thousands of hours” of footage condensed down to 42 minutes per episode and that producers are not able to show every single thing on the CBS reality show. The CBS boss added that producers strive to show “a good representation” of what happens.
Last month, Kemi Fakunle blasted Big Brother for giving sympathetic edits to white houseguests who made degrading and threatening comments on the live stream.
“I am saddened to be associated with such a negative display of human character and am horrified that this is now a part of my life story,” the Big Brother evictee wrote to fans in a Twitter post, which you can see below.
— Kemi #BB21 (@kisseskemi) July 20, 2019
In addition to the on-camera bullying, while on the show Fakunle reportedly told other houseguests that a producer named Christine tried to get her to behave in a stereotypical manner, according to Entertainment Tonight. Fakunle revealed that she was coached by the producer to “wag her finger” and say “Uh uh, girlfriend.”
The shocked Big Brother player added that she told the producer that she doesn’t ever talk like that and asked her what she was trying to do. The producer reportedly told Fakunle that she thought such behavior would be an option for her.
At TCA, Kahl admitted that he was uncomfortable with some of the things that have been going on in the Big Brother house this summer, but said CBS will not be making any decisions about the future of the long-running reality show, which has aired every summer since 2000, until after this season wraps in September.
“After each season, we always go back and look and ask if there’s anything else we can do better next year. That is something we will do after this season is over,” Kahl said.
Big Brother 21 airs Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays on CBS.