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Dream Casting the New Season of Big Brother: All-Stars

Still set for this summer, Season 22 will reportedly feature a new set of returning favorites.
  • Big Brother winners Danielle Donato, Dan Gheesling and Da'Vonne Rogers. (CBS)
    Big Brother winners Danielle Donato, Dan Gheesling and Da'Vonne Rogers. (CBS)

    To begin, it should be noted that every impending Big Brother season begins with the whispered hopes among the show's fans that this might be an all-star season. The show, which is entering its 22nd season and expected to begin later than its usual early-July kickoff because of pandemic-related production delays, has only done a full-scale All-Stars season once — way back in the show's seventh season in 2006. Since then, several seasons have featured returning players in some capacity, but never a full cast of returning players. Finally, this year, which marks 20 years since the show's premiere in the U.S., it looks like it's going to happen.

    With 14 seasons having passed since the last all-stars affair, there are a LOT of Big Brother players who would make good casting choices. As someone who's watched every one of those seasons (even the terrible ones), I have some definite opinions with regard to who should come back. The following is a wish list, which should not be confused for a list of predictions. It's far more likely that players like Frankie Grande and Paul Abrahamian will return than most of the players on this list. Instead, think of this as an extended For Your Consideration notice to the Big Brother producers.

    I tried to limit myself mostly to players from after Season 7 (with two very worthy exceptions), and I've excluded most players who have participated on other reality shows like The Challenge or The Amazing Race (again, with a few exceptions). I've also excluded all players who made bigoted/hateful statements while in the Big Brother house. So if you're wondering why legendary players like Dr. Will Kirby (pre-season 7), Rachel Reilly (three seasons of The Amazing Race), and Jeff Schroeder (repeated homophobic statements) aren't on this list, that's why.

    All that said, here are 16 players that I'd love to see back in competion in the Big Brother house, or my Big Brother all-stars.

    Dan Gheesling

    Original Season: BB10 (winner)
    Subsequent Seasons: BB14 (runner-up)

    Dan is considered by many to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest Big Brother contestant to ever play the game. Certainly no player has come back from the brink of elimination as spectacularly as Dan — and he's done it twice. Love him or hate him (and after the mind games he pulled in Season 14, plenty hate him), an all-star season without him would seem pretty pointless.

    Renny Martyn

    Original Season: BB10 (5th place)
    Subsequent Seasons: none

    Easily the most entertaining player from Dan's original season was New Orleans beauty salon owner Renny, who managed to combine cheerful eccentricity with a volatile hair-trigger that made her delightfully compelling to watch. Yes, by now she'd be in her mid-60s, on a show that casts younger and younger every season, but if All-Stars 2 is going to be populated with strategy monsters, don't we need a little comic relief and time-zone debates?

    Derrick Levasseur

    Original Season: BB16 (winner)
    Subsequent Seasons: none

    Derrick delivered probably the single most dominating performance in a Big Brother season, forging a majority alliance early and holding together the volatile personalities therein (including the likes of Frankie "Ariana's brother" Grande and Zach "Fruit Loop Dyngus" Rance) with bold hands long enough to get him to the end without ever being nominated for eviction. Much like with Dan, an All-Star season without Derrick doesn't make sense.

    Danielle Reyes

    Original Season: BB3 (runner-up)
    Subsequent Seasons: BB7 (6th place)

    She'd probably never do it again after all these years, but no Big Brother player better represents the all-stars banner than Danielle. She played a flawless secret-alliance game in Season 3, maneuvering the other players like pieces on a chess board, before being done in by the fact that she talked too much crap about the jurors, who at that point in series history went home after eviction instead of to a sequestered jury house. Danielle played another strong game in the first All-Stars season, but she was ultimately done in by an unbreakable Chilltown alliance. All-Stars 2 is unlikely to feature many players from the show's first decade, but if they do, Danielle should be at the top of that list.

    Britney Haynes

    Original Season: BB12 (4th place)
    Subsequent Seasons: BB14 (8th place)

    Britney is the single-greatest Diary Room interview in the history of Big Brother, and any all-star season without her would be woefully lacking in deflating sarcasm and frustrated eye rolls. Britney's initial season was the same one that introduced Rachel Reilly, and in many ways, Britney wouldn't have become Britney without Rachel's extra-ness to play off of. When she returned two seasons later as one of four player-coach all-stars, she managed to put together a very loyal alliance that only got deep-sixed when Dan told a spectacular series of lies to snake her. And while it's true that Britney's appearance on last year's Amazing Race showed that motherhood had perhaps mellowed her, a rematch against Dan feels too juicy to pass up.

    Daniele Donato

    Original Season: BB8 (runner-up)
    Subsequent Seasons: BB13 (8th place)

    Daniele's original season was the wretched Season 8, which saw her vile and verbally abusive father, "Evel" Dick Donato, rampage to a victory, with Dani complicit by his side. In Season 13, however, she really came into her own as a bold strategic player willing to go up against the majority alliance even if it made her a target. Big Brother tends to be woefully short on players like that. You could even also cast her BB13 love interest and current husband Dominic Briones alongside her.

    Ian Terry

    Original Season: BB14 (winner)
    Subsequent Seasons: none

    Ian's path to victory can be viewed as either a super fun triumph of a meek, tiny, good-hearted nerd, or a nerve-wrangling rollercoaster ride with the most anxious person who ever lived. Ian played the perfect Big Brother game when you're up against a cast of big personalities like Dan and Frank and Mike "Boogie," and he was rewarded with a win. It would be fascinating to see how he'd do when he's a big target.

    Kalia Booker

    Original Season: BB13 (5th place)
    Subsequent Seasons: none

    Kalia's Big Brother story is of taking a big swing and missing, which makes her exactly the kind of player the show should be looking for in an all-star season. After initially falling in line behind returning players like Jeff Schroeder and Rachel Reilly, Kalia broke off with Daniele and targeted the majority alliance. Kalia managed to get Jeff evicted, but thanks to a last-minute twist that many Big Brother fans saw as producer shenanigans to save Rachel, Kalia's alliance crumbled and she soon went home. Give her a chance for redemption!

    Andy Herren

    Original Season: BB15 (winner)
    Subsequent Seasons: none

    Andy was the winner of the show's unpopular 15th season, which saw several contestants called out online for making racist insults, to the point where the show and host Julie Chen had to confront it on the air. He's not likely to get called back by producers, but if he were, the fireworks could be huge, considering the fact that Andy is vocal on social media about other BB players and would have bad blood with about half of any chosen All-Stars cast. Bring on that drama.

    John McGuire

    Original Season: BB17 (4th place)
    Subsequent Seasons: none

    If the name "John McGuire" doesn't ring any bells for you, how about Johnny Mac, the nickname he went by during his massively entertaining run in Season 17. Johnny wasn't a bad player, and he had a decent strategic grasp, but the truth is that you wouldn't cast him for his gameplay prowess. You'd cast him for his live-wire, hugely entertaining Diary Room comments and general lovability. As we said with Queen Renny, you need those kind of players to break up all the strategy-heads.

    Jun Song

    Original Season: BB4 (winner)
    Subsequent Seasons: none

    Indulge me this one more old-school pick, because Jun Song needs her redemption. Perhaps the ultimate "floater" (a strategy that gets a massively bad rap on Big Brother but is a perfectly legitimate and smart way to win), Jun played all sides against each other as she snarked her way to the finals. That didn't make her a very popular player, but she made sure she was up against the far more hated Alison Irwin, and so Jun won the vote from a bitter, stone-faced jury. Jun deserves better! She's one of the most underrated winners of all time, and it's time she had the chance to prove it.

    Vanessa Rousso

    Original Season: BB17 (3rd place)
    Subsequent Seasons: none

    Vanessa perhaps takes the trophy as the single most paranoid Big Brother contestant of all time, and that's saying something considering this show's history. She made it all the way to the finale, and if she had won the final Head of Household competition, she'd likely have won the whole show. Putting her into a tank with some of the biggest fish to ever play the game might honestly break her… or she could shake up the season in a majorly entertaining way.

    Da'Vonne Rogers

    Original Season: BB17 (16th place)
    Subsequent Seasons: BB18 (11th place)

    So, yes, Da'Vonne never cracked the top ten in either of her seasons, and you could make the argument that she's not nearly stealthy enough to be any good at playing this game. HOWEVER, there have been few contestants more entertaining at calling out bullshit than Da'Vonne, and it makes for irresistible television. She burned brightly in the few weeks she was on Season 17, and then, when she was ousted halfway through season 18, she held court in the jury house, hounding the cretinous Paulie for every moment of his bad behavior in the house. She'd break my self-imposed rule against casting anyone who's done MTV's The Challenge, but she's worth it.

    Kaitlyn Herman

    Original Season: BB20 (13th place)
    Subsequent Seasons: none

    Is Kaitlyn a good Big Brother player? Maybe. It seemed for a second like she might be, as the crystals-and-yoga life coach from California pulled together the first majority alliance of her season. That alliance turned out to be one of the most spectacular failures in BB history, however, and Kaitlyn's season ended up being epitomized by her having the chance to get back into the house by putting together an incredibly easy block puzzle, only to see her freak out and fail. Does Kaitlyn deserve another chance? Maybe not. But she'd be the kind of player who'd get up in everybody's business and play all the angles, and that would be fun/maddening to watch, the exact right Big Brother vibe.

    Scottie Salton

    Original Season: BB20 (8th place)
    Subsequent Seasons: none

    Few players on this show have ever seemed so obviously lovable to the home audience while being consistently hated by pretty much everybody inside the house. Scottie had the misfortune of playing the game after a string of skinny, pale nerds had floated their way to the end and won the show. So his fellow houseguests took one look at him, saw that he fit that mold to a tee, and decided they'd never trust a single thing he said. It would be great to see Scottie get to play in a season where that kind of target isn't so squarely on his back.

    Nicole Anthony

    Original Season: BB21 (3rd place)
    Subsequent Seasons: none

    In a season jam-packed with loathsome players, Nicole emerged as the lone fan favorite, and she came within a hair's breadth of making it to the final two, at which point she'd have likely won in a landslide. She definitely deserves to play in a season that isn't populated with bullying jerks. Which isn't to say that All-Stars 2 won't have any, but in a perfect world, where the above casting wishes actually come true, Nicole would be among a better class of houseguests.

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    Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: Big Brother, CBS, Julie Chen, Reality TV