As a Big Brother fan since the first season I had an opportunity of a lifetime to join the audience for a live taping of Big Brother on July 26, 2018. It was an even more special night as the evicted houseguest had a chance to stay in the game thanks to the BB Bonus Life app. I look forward to sharing my experience. First I’d like to thank the team at CBS Interactive and Big Brother for taking such great care of us and for the memories we made during a perfect two days in Los Angeles.
How did we end up at a live taping of Big Brother?
I’m sure this is the first question most Big Brother fans will have. In our case it was part work and a lot of luck. As a CBS All Access affiliate we help promote the streaming service. Each year CBS Interactive runs a contest for partners. This time around we just happened to be lucky enough to have our name pulled in the competition. To say it was unexpected woulld be a huge understatement. I was sitting at home on a Saturday morning when I received a call on my cell phone. The number wasn’t familiar so I let it go to voicemail. Considering the number of sales calls I receive on a weekly basis I didn’t think too much of it. That is, until I listened to the voicemail a couple times. Then I immediately called back and confirmed everything. Sure enough we had won a trip for two to Los Angeles to join the live taping of Big Brother. The show was to take place in 12 days. So basically I went from sitting on the couch to taking in a live Big Brother eviction show in Los Angeles in less than two weeks. That’s what I call a totally unexpected and amazing surprise.
Time to travel to Los Angeles
Not only did we get a chance to visit with the Big Brother crew and watch the live taping. We also had a day in Los Angeles to see the sights. Unfortunately our original flight was cancelled due to bad weather in Charlotte. That put our arrival in LA back a few hours. That didn’t stop us though as the car service that CBS had set up got us from LAX to our hotel near Universal theme park in time to check in and arrive for a 7pm tour. That was quite impressive considering we left the airport toward the beginning of rush hour.
Since it was our first time in Los Angeles we decided to take in a tour of the area. The 7pm Star Track tour was led by DJ, our guide for the evening. We started on Hollywood Blvd. and made our way up into the Hollywood Hills. From there we explored Beverly Hills and the shops along Rodeo Drive. Ending the tour with a cruise down the Sunset Strip. If you ever have a chance to take a night tour in LA then I would highly recommend Star Track tours. The owner is very accommodating and DJ is an amazing guide. I would definitely ask for him if we go back in the future. They even dropped us off at the hotel after the tour.
The Morning of the Big Brother live eviction show
After the night tour we crashed for a few hours. By then we had been up for about 20 hours but the jet lag hadn’t set in. We ran on adrenaline the entire trip so that wasn’t really an issue. The morning of the taping we woke up and decided to explore the area. The team at CBS Interactive put us up at the Hilton Universal which meant we were right next to Citywalk. What better way to spend the hours leading up to Big Brother than to explore some local brews. We had lunch and a few rounds at Karl Strauss Brewing. Their beer menu is ever changing but I highly recommend the Red Trolley as a smooth, easy drinking ale.
Big Brother studio and green room experience
After our stint at Karl Strauss Brewing we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the live taping. The CBS studio was nearby so we didn’t have far to travel. The car service picked us up two and a half hours before the show. We were taken to CBS Studio Center, where we checked in and passed through security. The excitement was high as fans were arriving for the taping. We were even more excited when we found out that we were going to have the opportunity to visit the green room before the show.
The VIP treatment was second to none as we were whisked away to Studio 18. Along the way we got a quick behind the scenes tour of the studio and watched the crew prepare for the next head of household competition. After hanging out in the green room a few minutes we had a chance to meet and chat with Don Wollman, a Big Brother producer and the voice behind “Please come to the diary room”.
The time we spent in the green room was a highlight of our trip. Don has been with the show since season 1 so he was able to answer questions and share behind the scenes stories. We were geeking out and trying to take it all in. It was very interesting to hear how they work to find the right mix of houseguests for the show and how the crew practices before each new season gets underway. Given the draw of Big Brother 20 I’d say they continue to do a great job of finding the right chemistry for the show.
Time for the Big Brother live eviction show
About 30 minutes before showtime we left the green room and entered the studio. The stage is just as you would expect from watching the show. There are large monitors on both sides to watch the pre-taped portion of the show. The studio holds around 80 audience members which makes the experience feel like a big viewing party. As you might expect we didn’t need much prepping to get ready as the studio was filled with Big Brother fans. Don Wollman came out and welcomed the audience. The crowd coordinator took over from there. He let us know when and how to react during the taping. As you might expect the crowd applause was loud when it needed to be. They also asked us to act respectfully toward the evicted houseguest. After a few minutes of BB discussion and some fun t-shirt giveaways we were ready for the show!
Shortly before the live show was scheduled to begin Julie Chen came on stage to a huge applause. No need to prompt us on that one! She was followed by a makeup artist and hair stylist to take care of any last minute touch ups. There were also crew members wondering around, on and off the stage making last minute preparations for the live show. Even so it was business as usual in the studio and we all felt like part of the show.
As the cameras went live we watched Julie welcome the TV audience and kick off the show. Then the pre-taped segments took over as we learned what the houseguests had been up to the last few days. While we watch on the large screens we also had a chance to chat with the crowd coordinator. At one point during the pre-taped segments and commercials Julie spoke to her son via FaceTime and even shared some views of their new dog with the audience.
When it came time for the eviction, both Kaitlyn and Angie “Rockstar” gave a short speech. Kaitlyn thanked her life coaches including Tony Robbins and Deepak Chopra. That drew a chuckle from the audience but otherwise it didn’t help Kaitlyn as she was evicted almost unanimously. Only JC voted to keep her in the house. After the eviction was announced, Julie followed it up with an explanation of the Bonus Life app which would give Kaitlyn a chance to stay in the game.
Kaitlyn went to the BB App Store room to compete in the Bonus Life challenge. She had to take apart a cartoon puzzle of herself and slide the pieces through a hole. Then go to the other side of the room and reassemble the puzzle in two and a half minutes. It was painful to watch as Kaitlyn struggled and seemed overwhelmed by the stress of it all. In the end she was unable to reassemble the puzzle in time. That meant her eviction held and she quickly came out of the house into the studio.
The live show ended shortly after Kaitlyn entered the studio from the BB house. The Bonus Life challenge didn’t leave enough time for the regular on-air interview. Instead they taped an interview for the CBS website after the show. We got to hang around a few minutes and watch Julie interview Kaitlyn about her eviction and time in the house. Then it was time to exit the studio and make our way back to the CBS parking structure. Along the way we passed a neighborhood set used for a number of productions.
We had a wonderful time at the Big Brother taping and made quite a few memories during our time in Los Angeles. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you sign up for a 7-day free trial of CBS All Access to watch the BB live feeds. You’ll hear Don call houseguests to the dairy room and take in all the behind the scenes action you miss between the broadcasts. Thanks once again to CBS Interactive and the Big Brother crew for making our trip an unforgettable experience.