''Exes'' will mark the spot when reality show ''Big Brother'' returns to CBS for its fourth installment on Tuesday, July 8. Four of the nine new houseguests will learn within the first hour of their stay that their former lovers will join the game, too.
''Each year we try to give 'Big Brother' a fresh face,'' says executive producer Arnold Shapiro. ''They all come in with a preconceived strategy and we like to shake that up a bit. Last year we introduced 'Expect the unexpected.' This year, you could put that in capital letters.''
When the show launches next week, host Julie Chen will open the house -- a fully enclosed compound outfitted with dozens of cameras and microphones operating 'round the clock -- to nine new houseguests. After the group has selected their beds and participated in their first challenge, Chen will reveal the reason why the letter X is posted throughout the house: Two former girlfriends and two former boyfriends will also join the game.
''All nine will start to think, 'Is it my ex?''' says Shapiro, who worked extra hard to insure that none of the houseguests knew their former mates were screened as possible ''BB4'' participants. ''It will be a really unpredictable situation. Maybe they'll be happy to see the ex who broke up with them, or maybe it's someone they are dreading to see. It's going to be the most turbulent, unpredictable time -- not only at the end of the first show but in the days and weeks to follow.''
The action will air every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday on CBS and is available 24 hours a day via the Internet. In a live ballot each Wednesday, the houseguests will vote a member out of the house; the last one standing at the end of three months wins $500,000. Look for more details about the cast in the upcoming issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands July 4.