Julie Chen Moonves Reveals Meredith Vieira Was First Choice for ‘Big Brother’ Gig: ‘I Can’t Imagine Not Hosting’

Julie Chen Moonves Reveals Meredith Vieira Was First Choice for 'Big Brother' Gig: 'I Can't Imagine Not Hosting'

“I know I was meant to host this show,” Chen Moonves told ‘Entertainment Tonight’ ahead of the long-running reality series’ 25th season

The former CEO said he thought Vieira’s reputation would remedy the “trashy” nature of the show, which first aired in 2000.

“He said, ‘I knew Big Brother was going to be kind of a trashy show … So, we wanted to class it up with the host,’” Chen Moonves told ET, adding that the network offered the job to Viera because she “was a very well-respected name in the business.”

Instead of joining the cast of the long-running reality show, Vieira opted to stay in-network, hosting a daytime version of ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in 2002, and went on to co-host The Today Show in 2006, where she stayed for a decade.

Chen Moonves also declined the job initially, but ultimately changed her tune, making the leap from broadcast journalism to reality TV. She left her gig as a CBS Early Show news reader, which she had only been in for five months, to host the long-running reality show.

“I was ‘in house,’” she told ET. “And when they offered me the job, they were one month away from launching the show.”

While reflecting on her career-defining role as Big Brother host ahead of its 25th season, Chen Moonves said she knows that she was “meant to host” the show but acknowledged that her start was a little rocky.


“I was terrible in the beginning,” she admitted to ET. “I’ve grown so much as a human being and as a host … And I love it. I can’t imagine not hosting Big Brother anymore.”


She has become so inseparable from the show, in fact, that Chen Moonves said people often ask her if she is Big Brother.


“People sometimes think, ‘Oh, you’re Big Brother, right?’” — an inquiry she said she playfully shuts down, saying, “I am the Chenbot and I am the host.”

When asked by ET how long she will remain head of the Big Brother household, Chen Moonves said there is no end to her HOH reign in sight.

“I have no idea how many more years this is gonna go on but right now, the way I’m feeling, I hope it never ends,” she said.

The host added that “looking back now” — with 24 drama-filled Big Brother seasons under her belt — “I know I was meant to host this show.”

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