Reality show staffing up for early launch

CBS may rely on its “Big Brother” as a strike contingency.

Skein, usually a summer staple, has started staffing up for an in-season run that could be on the air as soon as February, people familiar with the situation said.

Indeed, in anticipation of a strike, Eye quietly began casting for the next edition of the show a few weeks ago.

Exec producer Allison Grodner is also said to be working on a new creative twist for the Julie Chen-hosted skein, in which a group of strangers live together in a house for three months.

There’s been buzz that the next edition of “Big Brother” might actually use celebrities, as opposed to ordinary people. A long strike might work in favor of such a plan, since some celebs normally busy working on sitcoms and dramas might have some time on their hands.

Possibility of an early “Big Brother” popped up on Tuesday’s edition of the Eye’s “Early Show.” Anchor Hanna Storm joked that the show might be back sooner than the summer, prompting a roll of the eyes from Chen. Chen then expressed her hope that the strike is settled soon.

“Big Brother” would be a perfect strike weapon for CBS because it airs three times a week, filling three key hours of primetime.

Eye execs declined to comment.

Endemol USA and Allison Grodner Prods. produce “Big Brother.”

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