Interview with Big Brother USA's Dan Gheesling

February 28, 2013

Following last night’s Big Brother Canada premiere, we were fortunate enough to get an interview with Big Brother legend Dan Gheesling. Rather than going with the typical questions, we aimed to find out what Dan would do if he was in control of running Big Brother Canada. We got his input on everything from the cast, to the twists, to the competitions and so on. Thanks to Dan for giving us his time to do the interview!

Canadians are hoping that Big Brother Canada can replicate the success of Big Brother USA.  What is it that the show needs to do in order to replicate that success?

Dan: I think you saw a lot of it tonight in terms of the production quality. I think the production quality was just as good as the US version. I don’t know if you guys would agree, but I would definitely say that for sure. One of the things I really liked was how energetic the set was, having it in a really live audience, not to mention the set was really interactive.

One of the things I’m looking forward to, and you have got to think it is coming, is that they can morph that set into whatever they want because there are so many screens. Whether they make it look special on a twist day, I just think it adds a different dimension. I think Arisa is a really cool, hip and dynamic host. It was really fun to watch her.

If you are the casting director, what types of things are you looking for when you are putting the cast together?

Dan: I think one of the things you saw in this episode, that I don’t know how you don’t laugh at, is you have the 38 year old guy talking about how he wants to meet Sandra Bullock, and they quickly flip to the girl saying I look like Sandra Bullock. Those are the types of connections you look for in a cast.

I have had some extensive conversations with casting directors on how the process goes, because I have a site where I help people learn the process of how to get on reality TV - Basically, what it looks like is, the cast looks like a puzzle. So, each puzzle piece has to have some sort of interaction or connection with the people around it. Whether it’s a love connection like Sandra Bullock and the 38 year old guy, or an anti-connection where two people are going to go at it. It’s like a multipronged attack.

As for the competitions, what are the types that you would like to see included or avoided?

Dan: I’ll tell you what I don’t like. I don’t like competitions, but it’s inevitable, where it’s all about a lucky bounce or we used to joke about getting a ball into a hole. If your life in this game depends on getting a ball into a hole, its like come on. What I do like to see is endurance challenges or challenges where your will or your drive to win controls whether you will win or not. We saw a slop competition today with you guys, and two of the people didn’t have the will to do it. It’s just how bad do you want it?

In terms of a twist for the inaugural season of Big Brother Canada, do you feel that there is a need for something major, or would you keep it simple and rely on the basics of Big Brother?

Dan: I don’t think that they need anything major, because they have done all of the homework. They have put in all of the hard work. They have the building blocks of a great show. Sometimes I think a crazy twist can actually take away from that. I don’t think they need one, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be Big Brother Canada without some crazy Canadian twist.

Barbara Williams, an exec with Shaw, is on record as saying that “there may even be moments throughout the series that fans could have more power over the happenings in the house than the houseguests themselves!” How do you feel about putting potentially game changing decisions in the hands of the fans?

Dan: I think it’s a great thing if it doesn’t drastically affect the game play. So, if it’s like vote on what a person should wear or what a person should eat, as opposed to who should get a power or who should get voted out. It really kind of compromises the houseguests’ ability to play a very strategic game, because you’re accounting for a variable where you have no idea how Canada is going to feel about a certain situation. You don’t have access to that information. I think they are going to do it in a smart way, where it’s going to be cool, where the fans are going to be like “wow, we really did this!” as opposed to screwing up the game.

On a related note, what are your thoughts on Pandora’s Box? Is it something that you would include in the game?

Dan: It is a lot of fun. I think it adds a different dynamic. When it’s a fun or jovial thing, it’s really, really good. When it affects the game, it really alters things. However, in season 14 I’m a little biased but, when you throw an extra power in there that everyone can win, that’s interesting. When you open a box and you automatically get something, it’s not exactly as kosher as you would like.

Big Brother Canada is going to follow the same format as Big Brother USA. Are there any changes that you would like to see made to that format?

Dan: That’s a really good question. I think the only thing I would change is I would get the audience from social media more involved in a day to day cosmetic thing. Maybe every day five houseguests are picked at random and they have to do something crazy or wear something crazy because people voted on it. It doesn’t affect the outcome of the game and doesn’t give the houseguests any information on Canada likes this person over this person. It’s kind of the way the world has evolved where you can have direct interaction and say “I want this person to do this right now”. I think it’s kind of cool.

Finally, where can fans go to find out about your involvement with Big Brother Canada and other things that you are up to?

Dan: The hub for everything is my website, which is It has links to my Facebook and my Twitter. I’m probably a little obsessive over Twitter. One of the things I try to do is I really try to respond to everyone even when it gets hectic. The best place is my website. I’ll post a lot of things there, and then stemming from there would be Twitter and Facebook.

Check out our other interviews here!