CBS is showing some “Big Brother”-ly love to the “The Amazing Race.”
Eye has firmed up plans for its summer sked, and the biggest news is the net’s decision to pair established hit “Brother” with the Emmy-winning “Race” to create a two-hour reality block on Tuesdays from 9-11 p.m. Net is also planning to bow Mike Fleiss’ “The Will” during the summer.
Both “Brother” and “Race” will have 90-minute season premieres on Tuesday, July 6, with “Big Brother 5” airing from 8-9:30 p.m. and “Race” following from 9:30-11 p.m.
After that, “Brother” will settle into its regular thrice-weekly broadcast pattern, airing Tuesdays at 9, Thursdays at 8 and Saturdays at 9 until the end of September. That’s a change from last summer, when “Brother” aired Tuesdays and Fridays at 8 and Wednesday at 9 p.m.
“Race” will air Tuesdays at 10 p.m. starting July 13.
In addition to their schedule proximity, “Brother” and “Race” will be linked in another way: One of this summer’s “Race” contestants will be 23-year-old Alison Irwin — the runner-up in last summer’s “Big Brother 4.” She’ll be paired with her boyfriend, Donny.
Pairing “Brother” and “Race” should help both shows, CBS execs said.
“It invites more people to come to both of these shows,” said Eye reality guru Ghen Maynard. Irwin had “a very interesting storyline on ‘Big Brother,’ and I think there’ll be interest among fans of that show” to see her on “Race,” Maynard added.
Alison spent much of her time in the “Big Brother” house either flirting and canoodling with male contestants or fretting about how annoyed Donny would be at her for hooking up with other guys.
“If they had applied for ‘Amazing Race’ the regular way, they would have made it because they have such a fascinating relationship,” Maynard said.
From a scheduling standpoint, “I think having an established brand like ‘Big Brother’ leading into ‘Amazing Race’ can really help us get the show even more exposure with younger viewers,” said CBS scheduling and program planning topper Kelly Kahl. “And given the amount of reality programming coming on this summer, getting ‘Amazing Race’ out of the (8 p.m.) fray could be very beneficial for the show.”
Move also means CBS will bump repeats of “Judging Amy” during the summer. While skein does fine with originals, it doesn’t repeat as well as some other CBS dramas.
“Brother” and “Race” will also get some new twists this season to lure viewers.
Producers on the former skein are staying mum for now, but Maynard said “Race” would get a little tougher on contestants.
During non-elimination weeks, the team that finishes last will be stripped of all their money — and not be given any coin at the start of the next leg of the race.
There’ll also be a new “yield” component to the game that will let each team slow down someone who’s lagging behind them in the race. The “yield” can only be used once by each team.
Overall, “The game is tougher this year,” Maynard said. “We gave them less money than in any previous seasons. The intent is to force these teams to use their resources as wisely as possible.”
“Big Brother” comes from exec producers Arnold Shapiro and Allison Grodner in association with Endemol USA. Bert van Munster and Jerry Bruckheimer exec produce “Race” in association with Touchstone Television.