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All-stars vie for ‘Big’ break

'Brother' plans casting competish

CBS is shaking up the casting process for the upcoming all-star edition of summer reality staple “Big Brother.”

Producers have informed 20 former players they’ve been selected as finalists for the all-star edition. But in something of a cruel twist — and a first for a network reality show — they won’t know whether they’ve made it back into the “Big Brother” house until the show’s live season premiere July 6.

What’s more, would-be “all-stars” will have to campaign to get into the house, since half of this year’s cast will be selected by viewers.

Eye has decided to start the process with a first-time “Big Brother” casting episode that will air Wednesday, June 21, at 8 p.m. Seg will feature interviews with the finalists, giving them a chance to make their case to fans.

In an “American Idol”-like twist, auds then get to choose their favorites via online voting slated to last a week. Players will lobby via the Net and through media appearances, some of which will be set up by CBS publicity as the net begins tubthumping for the official season premiere.

The top three male and female players will be guaranteed a place in the house. Remaining six slots will be filled by producers.

All 20 all-star wannabes will gather outside the “Big Brother” house on July 6. Twelve will be told they’ve been selected to play the game, while eight will be sent home — all on live TV.

“They’ll be all packed and ready to go,” said “Big Brother” exec producer Allison Grodner, who predicts the preem show will contain some high drama as rejected finalists realize they’re out of the competition.

Contrary to Internet buzz, players from all six past seasons of “Big Brother” will be eligible for the all-star edition. Grodner and Arnold Shapiro didn’t sign on as exec producers of the Endemol USA skein until season two, radically revamping the show when they arrived.

Producers opted not to cede casting of the entire show to viewers in order to ensure what Grodner calls “the right balance” of contestants. Translation: Nobody wants a house filled with just “nice” players.

“We’re looking for a showdown,” she said. “You’ve got your ‘Big Brother’ heroes and villains, and that’s what’s going to make for the best drama.”

Clash of good vs. evil will be reflected throughout “Big Brother All-Stars,” down to the interior design of the house, which will have elements that pay homage to past seasons’ players and highlights.

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