'Big Brother' Cast Ready For Action

Wednesday, July 5th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) — William arrived in anonymity. In a few days, the world will know his every move.

A police escort early Wednesday delivered the 27-year-old — along with nine fellow contestants — to the door of their new 1,800-square foot home built on a corner of a CBS Studio Center parking lot.

For the next three months, their lives will be tracked for ``Big Brother'' by 28 cameras and 60 microphones, their actions broadcast on national television and the Internet. The show debuts Wednesday night.

Real emotions poured out as the contestants, whose full names and identities are being withheld by the network, said goodbyes to their loved ones.

``I'll see you in three months,'' said a contestant named George, who gave a tearful kiss to his wife and three daughters before entering the home.

CBS is hoping the show will match the success of its ``Survivor'' game show, which gathered 16 contestants on a Malaysian island to compete for a $1 million prize under television's watchful gaze.

The contestants on ``Big Brother'' sent in videotaped applications and underwent what CBS called extensive screening and background checks. They will be vying for a $500,000 prize.

Although the original Dutch version of ``Big Brother'' was harshly criticized as exploitative and voyeuristic, the show became a hit and was copied in Germany and Spain.

Criticism has been more muted in America, although some media observers have questioned how far the reality-TV trend might go. Fox already saw how far it could go wrong with ``Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire?''

``People want something different. There's more of a voyeuristic nature to our watching habits,'' said Leslie Moonves, president of CBS Television, which paid a reported $20 million to the show's Dutch creator for the rights.

``Big Brother'' is intended to be ``fun,'' said series producer Paul Romer. ``Humans are curious beings. We like to know how other people live.''

The show's debut comes right after the sixth episode of ``Survivor'' and is intended to capitalize on its popularity. The castaways show was the first series to make a dent in the ratings of ABC's hit ``Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.''

Like ``Survivor,'' the contestants on ``Big Brother'' will gradually whittle their ranks down to a final participant. Every two weeks, the housemates will nominate two colleagues for expulsion, and TV viewers vote out one of them by phone. The audience will choose the winner from the three remaining players.

Unlike the island show, which was filmed last spring, ``Big Brother'' is airing five nights a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday is its regular berth).

Condensed versions of each day's footage will be shown in half-hour episodes Monday, Tuesday and Friday, with a one-hour recap Saturday. On Thursday, ``Big Brother'' raises the ante with a full hour of live TV.

The house, with adjoining vegetable garden, is stocked with staples. There's no TV, radio or newspapers, although each person can bring a small suitcase with books or games.

William entered the house dressed in a suit and tie and handed his girlfriend, Naima Benson, 22, of Philadelphia, a red rose. William rallied a crowd gathered at the studio and entered the home to chants of his name.

``He's realistic,'' said Benson. ``He knows there's a possibility he won't win, but he's confident about the type of person he is.''


On the Net: http://BigBrother2000.com