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CBS eyeing new ‘Brother’ shows

Casting call listed for fourth edition

With ratings for “Big Brother 3” soaring to new heights this summer, CBS has quietly begun searching for contestants for “Big Brother 4” — and exploring the idea of a celebrity edition of the hit show.

Late last week, Eye posted a notice on its CBS.com Web site calling for applicants for a “BB4” to take place in summer 2004. A brief TV ad hyping the start of auditions also aired on last Thursday’s live episode of the Endemol USA-produced skein.

While the casting call doesn’t guarantee CBS will bring “Big Brother” back, it’s another solid sign the net has no plans to evict the show from its summer sked. Since the “Survivor” phenom began in 2000, CBS execs have signaled their intent to bring back reality skeins — including “Big Brother” and “Amazing Race” — by calling for new applicants.

In any case, the huge profitability and ratings perf of “Big Brother 3” — from exec producers Arnold Shapiro and Allison Grodner — seems to make a renewal of the skein a no-brainer.

A special two-hour episode on Thursday — in which Chicago stylist Marcellas Reynolds was unexpectedly booted from the house after opting not to use immunity that would have made him safe for a week — attracted “Big Brother’s” largest audience this summer (10.62 million) as well as its best showings on any night in adults 18-49 (5.1/15) and 25-54 (5.6/14). Series also matched its high in adults 18-34 (5.1/16).

Thursday’s seg really took off at 9 p.m., with its 5.6 rating in adults 18-49 even topping every repeat of “CSI” in the hour since May 30. Results indicate “BB3” might be doing even better this summer if its Thursday and Saturday segs also aired at 9 p.m., like the skein’s Wednesday’s edition.

Overall ratings for “BB3’s” thrice-weekly telecasts are up about 5% from last summer’s successful “BB2.”

As for a celeb edition of “Big Brother,” CBS has begun putting out feelers to talent reps and publicists about the availability of stars for such a skein. Unlike the civilian version of the format, the celeb “Big Brother” would likely run only a couple of weeks and would probably air during the regular season.

Eye execs will likely make a decision on a celeb “Big Brother” within the next two months.

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