By Rick Porter
Technically, CBS isn't lying on its Web site when it says "a group of strangers will live together" on the new edition of "Big Brother." The network was just withholding part of the truth.
Instead of people who've never laid eyes on one another, several houseguests on "Big Brother 4" will see their pasts come back to haunt them. On the premiere episode Tuesday, July 8, four players discover that their ex-boyfriends or -girlfriends are also vying for the $500,000 prize.
"We have no idea what's going to happen," says executive producer Arnold Shapiro, who's returning for his third season on the CBS series. "We just know eight people -- four ex-couples -- are going to get the surprise of their lives. About anything you can imagine might happen, might indeed happen."
Three single men and two single women will also be part of the mix. They'll enter the house first along with half of each of the former couples; the exes will join them later in the premiere. The players have already been sequestered, so none of them know about the twist.
Allison Grodner, Shapiro's producing partner, came up with the idea as a way to make sure that "story [is] already there" at the start of the game.
She says she wanted to begin this "Big Brother" with something more than the typical getting-to-know-you episode in which everyone makes small talk and tries to get to know the other players. "In this case," she says, "we've got people already walking in with stories, with a past."
None of the four couples were married or had children, although some did live together for a time. The reasons they broke up, and the lingering feelings, are different in each case.
"Some broke it off on good terms. Some actually might want to be reunited," Grodner says. "And some [breakups] aren't as happy as the others." At least one is in the never-want-to-see-you-again category.
The contestants range in age from 19 to 59. Julie Chen is returning as "Big Brother's" host. Shapiro and Grodner decided to keep last season's big new element, the veto, in play this time, and they promise a new wrinkle to that aspect of the game as well.
The show will air at 8 p.m. ET Tuesdays, 9 p.m. Wednesdays and 8 p.m. Fridays. The Wednesday episodes will air live and feature the eviction of a player.
While the reunion of the former couples is the big hook to start, Shapiro thinks the five singles may be a wild card.
"What happens if one of them hooks up with one of the exes?" he asks. "Is there going to be a jealousy factor with the other ex? You just never know what could happen here."
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