Last year I had the chance to talk to Executive Producer John Brunton at the Toronto Big Brother Canada Casting Call. While still in the middle of designing and building the house, he shared some of his thoughts about casting and expectations for the upcoming season with me. Apparently, it’s going to be wild.
Interview of John Brunton – Executive Producer, Big Brother Canada
By Jayde K Ironside
Big Brother Canada Casting Call – Toronto
October 14, 2012
Jayde K Ironside: Hi, can I just get you to introduce yourself?
John Brunton: Sure, my name is John Brunton and I’m the Executive Producer of Big Brother Canada.
JKI: So you’re with Insight?
JB: Yes, Insight Productions is a company that I own.
JKI: And you’re taking care of the feeds?
JKI: My favorite part of the summers. So, how do you feel about merging television and Internet and bringing the longest running Internet Television show, Big Brother, to Canada?
JB: You know, the world has changed so dramatically and social media is part of every single program we do now, it is part of every discussion every day regarding every show. But this is sort of the ultimate social media show. In that once the TV show ends there is non-stop in a fishbowl 24/7; an opportunity for fans to connect with a program that’s very different than, I think, any other show on television. So I think that for Shaw and for Insight it’s going to take our play in social media to a whole new level.
JKI: Are you excited?
JB: Yeah! It’s going to be so much fun. We’ve cast a number of different shows over our careers, all different kinds of shows. From Idol to Project Runway to Top Chef, but casting a show like this is an entirely different experience and it’s a whole different kind of criteria. And then the mix of having just the right formula, the right stew, with just the right spice to make that house really fly and really work is incredibly exciting. And you can see by the turn outs we’ve got here in Canada, we’ve been actually attracting larger audiences to our audition process than they have in the United States, so it’s kinda’ cool. ‘Cause we only have a lousy 33 Million people that live in this country, and they’ve got 315 Million.
JKI: Do you have the numbers for that?
JB: The numbers, I think we’ll have somewhere between 1500 and 2000 people come here today; we had over a thousand in Vancouver, so on and so forth. We were told to expect hundreds, not thousands and we will literally have seen thousands of people across Canada. Every kind of human species you can imagine; every ethnic background, every kind of sexual orientation and a few that I didn’t even know existed. So, we’re having a ball – a blast.
JKI: It’s really a challenge, trying to find all the puzzle pieces to work together and meld in to a house. With all the varied people who are auditioning, how do you pick?
JB: Well, we want the show to be uniquely Canadian, we also want to learn from all the great seasons that they’ve had in the United States and in the UK and in other parts of the world. We want to really represent. You know every country has got its own character and personality; Canada’s very different than the United States, it’s very different than the UK, and so we want to be the penultimate Canadian version of Big Brother. We’re really multicultural; we have a different kind of liberal view of certain things. Gay marriage is legal in Canada; it’s not in the United States, it’s a very contentious issue in the United States; it’s a non-issue in Canada. Things like this may play in to the casting decisions that we make and I’m sure they will. The main thing we have to do is really represent Canada and also have a really really exciting, vibrant show that people can’t take their eyes off of; that you just want to follow these people week in, week out. I’ve been spending time with Boogie here today and you can understand why that guy was such a big star on the US show. He’s really charismatic and he’s fun and he’s social, he’s a great guy. And we look to have our Canadian version of Boogie’s and all the rest of them.
JKI: So, what’s your estimated reach with this? Who do you hope to get on the bandwagon?
JB: Well, we’d like obviously, everybody. We’re really lucky, and you can tell by the auditions that we’ve been throwing across the country that there’s an enormous fan base for Big Brother that already exists, so obviously we want all those people. But then, because it’s a Canadian version we think that people will sample our show that haven’t been watching the US show. So we want to hook those people as well. We’re playing to the base, like Obama, and then on top of that we’re really looking to expand our base and invite a whole bunch of new fans to join our household.
JKI: How will Big Brother Canada differ from its counterpart in the US?
JB: You know a lot of the challenges are going to be specifically Canadian; you’re not going to see a curling challenge or a hockey challenge in the Unites States or in the UK.
JKI: They did a hockey one last time.
JB: Yeah, they did steal from Canada. You’re going to see people in a hot tub with snow. Our show is going to be on in the winter and we are a classic Nordic country, you know, the cool clear north. So that’s going to be represented in the personality of the program. I think that the number one difference from the start is who we cast in the house. By definition they’re Canadian, so that’s going to be probably the most Canadian thing about the show is that we’re casting Canadians that are going to represent who we are. Then we’re going to have Canadian challenges, the design of the house is Canadian, if you will – but not stereotypical. It’s not like a log cabin or a chalet in the mountains. It’s got its own very cool design characteristics.
JKI: I can’t wait to see it.
JB: It’s going to be great.
JKI: So, any last thoughts that you would like to share with the fans?
JB: Yeah, I think you should tell the fans to strap on their seat belts and get ready for maybe the wildest season of Big Brother than anybody’s ever seen.
JKI: Thank you very much.
JB: You’re welcome.