Say it ain't so Big Brother 8 is more than halfway over! We asked executive producer Allison Grodner to take a time out from refereeing the latest fight between Dick and Jen to talk about America's Player, the overuse of the backdoor strategy, and what makes this season so craptastically better than the others.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Anyone who watched Big Brother: After Dark this week saw how Jen went off slop to eat burgers and cottage cheese. Why did you penalize her? (Jen's punishment will be revealed on tonight's show.)
ALLISON GRODNER: We always reserve the right to give penalty nominations when rules are broken that are not safety violations or something so extreme that you should be ejected. But this was unprecedented [someone who was already nominated breaking a rule].
Why not give her a penalty nomination next week?
At this point, our feeling is that the offender should be penalized within the week the offense took place. So this is a new way of dealing with rule violations by the nominees themselves.
What else is unprecedented about this season?
The unprecedented use of the veto, especially the [subsequent] eviction of the replacement nominee. Jen has been on the block four times. The amount of arguments and fights in the house on a regular basis. We've had very dramatic turnarounds over the years, but this season we've seen even bigger surprises the Dustin eviction, for one. What's also incredibly unprecedented about this season is America's Player [the contestant, Eric, secretly performs tasks mandated by viewers at home for money]. The viewers are involved, and he's still in the house.
Have you thought about changing the rules to avoid backdooring (targeting a replacement nominee for eviction)? It really puts strong players at a disadvantage.
It's possible. One of the adjustments that was made last year was the random drawing of ping-pong balls [to choose players for the veto competition]. That encouraged people from backdooring. This year, people just seem to be getting lucky in terms of the ping-pong balls! It's hard to say how much we'll change. Nakomis coming up with the whole six-finger plan back in BB5 was genius. These people are playing like that and we've had more HOHs change their mind [about who should be on the chopping block] midway through the week than we've ever had before though I don't think it was always their intent to backdoor somebody.
What about making the rule that if you win the veto, you can only use it to save yourself?
I feel like that takes some of the strategy out of the game. People have alliances and friends in the house. This is what is so interesting about the veto what happens if you use it or don't use it if you aren't on the block. We wouldn't have had Jameka saving Jen, or Dick saving Daniele another thing that's unprecedented about this season.
Was Jen admonished for destroying Dick's cigarettes?
There is a rule about destroying personal property in the house. It would be a big mess [if allowed to continue], so we have to have some rules to prevent all hell from breaking loose.
But how do you justify admonishing Jen when her shirt was vandalized with mustard?
Obviously it was an America's Player situation [Eric was told to do it]. She was able to wash it and it was fine. If that had been a situation in the house, we probably would have admonished the person who did it. But Jen doesn't know who did it!
Jen was contending that she was admonished for destroying Dick's cigarettes, yet Dick was never admonished for his foul behavior toward her. Is that true?
That's not necessarily true. By the way, we don't discuss who is admonished and so forth in the Diary Room. But I will tell you as an overall note that when people are close to crossing the line in terms of violence in the house, they are warned. Jen doesn't necessarily know [what, if anything, happened to Dick]. They don't know what happened with her with regards to the cigarettes. We don't discuss people's Diary Room visits with the other houseguests.
NEXT PAGE: Was there an America's Player card accidentally left in the Diary Room? ''We know better than that!'' says Grodner