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story.lead_photo.caption Julie Chen assumes hosting duties when CBS debuts Celebrity Big Brother at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Any regular reader of The TV Column since Big Brother arrived in the summer of 2000 knows that it's my one and only guilty pleasure.

Nothing against those who do, but I don't keep up with any of the Kardashians, not even Rob, the cute one. I don't care who gets a rose on The Bachelor (or The Bachelorette, Bachelor Pad, Bachelor in Paradise, Bachelor in Paradise: After Paradise, or The Bachelor Winter Games), and I've never followed any of the shrewish termagants on The Real Housewives in any of their nine cities or 15 spin-offs.

But I have seen every episode of the 19 seasons of Big Brother, where a pride of Houseguests is crammed in a two-level studio designed to look like a house and surrounded by 94 cameras and 113 microphones recording their every move 24 hours a day.

I find it oddly mesmerizing and mildly voyeuristic (in a permissible sort of way).

The series has been a CBS summer staple all these years, but now comes host Julie Chen with Celebrity Big Brother premiering with a three-night "TV event" -- 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, followed by a two-hour live eviction show at 7 p.m. Friday.

This is CBS' counter programming of NBC's Winter Olympics.

Following the three-night premiere, the series will (unlike regular Big Brother) air for only three weeks -- at 7 p.m. Sunday and Monday, then Feb. 14, 16 (two hours), 18, 19, 21, 23 (two hours), and 24, with the two-hour finale at 7 p.m. Feb. 25.

Celebrity Big Brother will have the same general format as regular Big Brother, with Head of Household and Power of Veto competitions. Each week, one or more Houseguests will be voted out, with the last one standing receiving the grand prize of $250,000.

But this time instead of regular folks, it'll be 11 A-list, super famous celebrities living together. Well, perhaps not A-list. Maybe C-list with a couple of former B-listers thrown in.

It does seem like a diverse group. The Houseguests include "an NBA champion, a UFC legend, a Tony Award-winning actress, a chart-topping musician, a model, a television personality and a TV host."

And Omarosa. Yes, Omarosa Manigault-Newman is now so reality-show famous, she's able to get by mononymously, like Madonna or Cher. Or Frankenstein.

The 43-year-old has managed to stretch her 15 minutes of fame from three seasons on Celebrity Apprentice to a year as a political aide in the Trump White House, and back to reality TV.

Did White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly fire the outspoken Omarosa and have her forcibly removed from the grounds as some reported? Omarosa claims she quietly resigned and quietly left the building.

In an interview on Good Morning America, the most infamous Celebrity Apprentice villain said, "As a senior staff [member] and assistant to the president, I have seen things that have made me uncomfortable ... and when I can tell my story, it [will be] a profound story that I know the world will want to hear."

Well, maybe.

Here are the other 10 Houseguests locked up with Omarosa:

Shannon Elizabeth, 44, is an actress best known for her, um, revealing role as foreign exchange student Nadia in 1999's American Pie. She also finished sixth in Season 6 of Dancing With the Stars.

Brandi Glanville, 45, is a reality star/author who got her start on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. She also did a turn on Celebrity Apprentice and has been on the British version of Celebrity Big Brother.

Ariadna Gutierrez, 24, is the Colombian model best known for being mistakenly announced as the winner of Miss Universe 2015 by host Steve Harvey.

Chuck Liddell, 48, is a retired mixed martial artist and former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion.

James Maslow, 27, is an actor/musician and former boy band member and star of Nickelodeon's Big Time Rush.

Ross Mathews, 38, is a TV host who was "Ross the Intern" on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and was a panelist on Chelsea Lately.

Mark McGrath, 49, was a singer with the band Sugar Ray and People magazine's "Sexiest Rocker" of 1998. He was also a co-host of Extra, and on Season 4 of Celebrity Apprentice.

Keshia Knight Pulliam, 38, is an actress we first saw as little Rudy Huxtable on The Cosby Show and later as Miranda on the TBS comedy/drama Tyler Perry's House of Payne.

Marissa Jaret Winokur, 44, won a 2003 Tony as Tracy Turnblad in the Broadway musical Hairspray and finished fourth in Season 6 of Dancing With the Stars.

Metta World Peace, 38, (birth name Ronald William Artest Jr.) was a professional basketball player for a half dozen NBA teams. He was also the first one eliminated in Season 13 (2011) of Dancing With the Stars.

The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Email:

Style on 02/06/2018

Print Headline: Football alternative: Big Brother with 'celebrities'

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