EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


July 1, 2014

Home is where the heat is for ‘Big Brother'

Outfitted with a fresh, photogenic cast, “Big Brother” is watching again, launching an all-new season of shifting alliances, back-stabbing and outrageous stunts.

“This, I promise you, will be the most twisted season ever,” the show’s host Julie Chen proclaimed in a recent plug for the CBS reality series that isolates 16 participants inside a custom-made house for an entire summer.

Absent in the promotion of the new season however has been any mention of the elephant in the “Big Brother” living room — the racist and homophobic comments that clouded last season, but did bolster ratings.

Though the network and the show’s executive producers maintained that they were caught off guard by last season’s offensive remarks, they’ve declined to say whether this season’s contestants were vetted any differently or if any additional thought was given to having a more diverse cast.

But already a similar controversy is heating up. Fan websites discovered this week homophobic and racially inflammatory comments on social media from new cast member Caleb Reynolds, an “adventure hunting guide” who lives in Hopkinsville, Ky. In commentary on his Instagram account, Reynolds referred to President Obama as a “Muslim monkey” and used an anti-gay slur.

CBS declined to comment on Reynolds, his casting or whether the network knew about the post.

Though “Big Brother” is essentially an unscripted game show, last year’s friction overshadowed the usual stunts and high jinks

The basic premise of “Big Brother” remains the same: The houseguests will be vying to linger the longest in the house. Each week, one contestant will be evicted. The last remaining houseguest will win the grand prize of $500,000. The contestants will be under 24-hour scrutiny by a webcam, with their movements monitored by 76 HD cameras and more than 100 microphones.

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