'Big Brother' Feeds Nonstop Web Show

Monday, July 17th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) — Watch them eat. Watch them sleep. Hear them snore.

For ``Big Brother'' fans who can't get enough of CBS voyeurism, the Internet can help fill the remaining 23-plus hours each day.

The Web site for the heavily promoted ``reality'' show offers continuous feeds from the house where the 10 ``Big Brother'' contestants are living. The feeds are live, using 28 cameras and 60 microphones that record every word and sneeze.

It's a good way to procrastinate on the overdue report at work. Or to pass the time at home while concocting dinner from hot dogs and Pop-Tarts.

No need to rush to the computer. After all, life can be mundane: Watch Karen sweep the kitchen floor, while Cassandra feeds chickens outside. Watch Curtis brush his teeth, shave and apply deodorant (in that order, from two camera angles). Watch Josh scrub the toilet (close up or from afar).

You also get unscripted discussions on marriages, the Rev. Al Sharpton, criminal sentencing and nail polish.

So what's the commotion? Ten strangers agreed to live in the house for three months with no privacy or outside contact. One tenant is kicked out every two weeks; the person left wins $500,000.

TV viewers get a half-hour of highlights every Monday, Tuesday and Friday, and a full hour on Thursdays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. EDT.

The Web site, http://www.bigbrother2000.com, expands on TV reality by offering raw footage without music or narration. There's also virtually no editing, so you may have to wait awhile for action.

Consider a typical exchange:

William: ``So, do you like `Star Trek'?''

Curtis: ``I like it OK. I'm not a big Trekkie or anything.''

William: ``I like the `Next Generation.'''

Curtis: ``I like that better. Me, too.''

Modeled after similar houses in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands, ``Big Brother'' represents the latest and most extensive U.S. effort at bridging TV and the Net.

Last November, the fictional Drew on ``The Drew Carey Show'' sent images from his TV home to a real-world Web site. This summer, the site for CBS' ``Survivor'' offers farewell speeches from participants booted off the island.

Those efforts supplemented TV. With ``Big Brother,'' you get the early word on house dynamics and tensions.

More than 40 hours before the segment appeared on TV, Eddie complained to Brittany about Jordan's attitude toward models (Eddie's girlfriend happens to be one). Jordan, you see, is a stripper on a crusade against stereotyping women. She later clarified her views during a poolside talk with Eddie.

(Jordan and William were the first two housemates to be nominated for expulsion, on Thursday night; viewers will decide which of them actually goes.)

You can watch any housemate at almost any given moment. Producers switch cameras as housemates move about the house. At night, infrared cameras spy on sleepers once the lights go off.

Sorry, but showercam and toiletcam are off limits. CBS installed them to prevent tenants from hiding, but the network has no plans to run feeds on TV or the Web.

Occasionally, profanity slips through. America Online, which runs the site for CBS, has technicians in the ``Big Brother'' control room, ready to cut feeds when necessary. But AOL warns nonetheless that feeds may be inappropriate for children.

With a high-speed Internet connection, it's much like watching TV on the computer. But you must forgive the grainy video in a 2-inch window and interruptions due to Net congestion. With dial-up modems, disruptions are frequent, so it feels more like a slide show.

The site also offers chats with other viewers, bios of housemates, trivia on the house and samples questions from the application form. There's also a peek at two suitcases: Jordan, the exotic dancer, packed the book ``Stripping in Time.''

Participants are well aware of the cameras. Although Jordan told only a few housemates about her stripteasing past, she acknowledges, ``America knows.'' She then recalls telling her parents just before the show.

``It was one of the best conversations I've ever had in my life,'' she confides to Jamie. ``For 2 1/2 years, I was hiding it.''

Though AOL would not disclose precise figures, it claimed that visits to the site increased fourfold in the first week. Ratings for the TV version, however, have dropped since the show began July 5.

This isn't the first voyeurism venture on the Net. Hundreds of sites offer sexually explicit feeds. PG-rated video comes from the likes of DotComGuy, the former Mitch Maddox who pledged never to venture past his tiny backyard for a year. Two dozen cameras record his almost every move, and he's doing all his shopping for food and luxuries online.

``Big Brother'' has already spawned parodies. Mr. Showbiz features ``Little Sisters,'' showing the real lives of staffers Zan and Jayna at work. The promise: ``Every time they slack off, surf the Net or phone a friend, you're there.''


Big Brother site, http://www.bigbrother2000.com

CBS site, http://www.cbs.com

Little Sisters parody, http://mrshowbiz.go.com/features/littlesisters


Elsewhere in television ....

ALL ACCESS: Can't get backstage at your favorite concert this summer? Tough luck. No, wait, MTV at least has sympathy. This week the music network is presenting its ``All Access'' week, with a series of behind-the-scenes specials on summer concert tours, including Ozzfest, 'N Sync, Britney Spears, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube and Destiny's Child. The specials air each weekday at 4:30 p.m. EDT. The network also airs concert specials by Rage Against the Machine, Spears, Santana, Green Day, Foo Fighters and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Two pilots for music series, ``Making the Tour'' and ``The Road Home,'' will also be presented.