'Big Brother 24': Julie Chen Moonves Reveals Why She Changed Her Last Name

While Julie Chen Moonves has achieved great success on her own terms, she was steadfast in giving up her professional name in solidarity with her husband. She surprised the Big Brother audience by signing off the Sept. 13 episode with her married name shortly after her husband, Leslie Moonves, stepped down as CBS Corp. CEO in 2018.

Chen Moonves remembered making the change spontaneously during a live show."I made the change on the fly on a live show in the spur of the moment," Chen Moonves told Deadline. "I didn't tell anybody. I was like toying with it, and I remember my heart racing while I thought, 'am I gonna do it?' It just became a moment."

She had used her maiden name on Big Brother since 2000, so even Chen Moonves' husband was surprised by her abrupt departure on camera. "I think he was just like, what happened?" she recounted. "When I married my husband, I chose not to take the name because I thought it could be seen as an unfair advantage. It was a powerful, popular name to have. And I had made my own career prior to knowing him. So I wanted to keep that. And then when his name was getting dragged through the mud, I thought this is the time to make my stand and to let the world know who I am. And it was a sign of support for my husband. I know him. And he is a good man."

In her exclusive July 6 interview with Deadline, Chen Moonves also discussed the Black alliance that culminated in Xavier Prather becoming Big Brother's first Black winner and what's next for the show. After last season's win by Prather, Chen Moonves said she received feedback "from all ends. I heard, 'congratulations, this is historic.' I heard, 'This is racist.' People see what they want to see. But at the end of the day, the right guy won. Xavier had everything it took to win. He won challenges, and he knew how to keep a secret, and he kept the peace," she explained. 

"It was incredible, and it was about time, and it was fantastic," Chen Moonves continued. "I was happy the way it turned out. I know the show can get silly, it can get super goofy. But at the same time, suddenly, you have a season that's such a game-changer. It was very uplifting, and it was very hopeful." 

"It gave me hope because we saw within the Cookout that not all of them got along or agreed with how people were playing the game. There were times that people were not completely loyal to the Cookout. They tried to go into business for themselves. And that came back to bite them. You saw people who maybe didn't see eye to eye on gameplay and personalities come together for the greater good because they knew that they had to. They rose [to] the occasion. That was quite an accomplishment."

The reality-television host revealed that the pandemic is still affecting CBS, and the show opted out of returning to live audiences at the last minute. "We are going to try again some point later in the season," Chen Moonves said.

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The TV personality also disclosed that she had lobbied for a season of Big Brother with all winners, "going back to season one when the rules were very different, and the public voted people out. I don't know if all these past winners can give a whole month of their time because a lot of them are parents now," Chen Moonves added. 

"But I do think if we did it like a celebrity version where it's like three weeks of past winners — that might be good for the winter. I think everyone would be game, but we almost have too many people! We have 24 seasons. We could have almost two versions of it." A new season of Big Brother 24 will premiere on CBS at 8 p.m. on July 6.