An Offer You Can Refuse

On Day 64 of BB1, the remaining six houseguests get a chance to get rich quick.
On Day 65 of BB1, the remaining six houseguests get a chance to get rich quick.

Welcome to a brand new feature being trotted out called “Days Gone By” which, with the help of a CBS All Access subscription, will take a look back at come classic BB US episodes while we wait for some other seasons to get started, such as BB Canada and the celebrity version of BB in the UK. On this particular day, it’s Day 65 in the BB1 house, and the 50th TV episode of the season, which Big Brother is airing six nights a week for at least half an hour most weeks.

Evictions have taken place up to this point once every two weeks, and so far, four of the starting ten have been eliminated: Will-Mega, Jordan, Karen, and Brittany. The original BB hasn’t been doing well ratings wise since it began to very high marks in early July, so the producers have come up with an idea to kick start the series to its finish 24 days away on September 30, 2000.  On the live show held on a massive set with a studio audience (the only season that would use one up until more recent seasons), Julie Chen explains the planned shakeup.

Beth, what can you do?

Money will be offered to the first houseguest who wants it, but in exchange for that, they have to give up their shot at winning the $500,000 grand prize at the end. If anyone takes the bait, a new houseguest would enter named Beth, a competitive Florida party girl who promises controversy to go along with her personality. Should she go in, the already announced nominations would be null and void, although it wasn’t made clear if Beth would get some kind of immunity for entering.

If that fails to happen, the nomination process already in place (each houseguest named two others to be nominated for eviction in season one, there was no HOH process) and the pre-taped series of nominations that would normally air that night would stand. Much like the versions in other countries, those nominated face a public vote to decide who leaves. If anyone ties for second place, or if a three-way tie or more exists for first, there could be more than two nominees, which did happen in BB1 on several nominations.

After a brief interview, the explanation was made that whatever winnings Beth earns will be reduced by about 72% for only being in the house for a few weeks, so if Beth somehow took first place, she’d only win about $140,000, not the full $500K.

Inside the house, most of the six houseguests are wearing camo gear and/or dark glasses, including “Chicken” George, who is supplementing his attire by wearing a plant on his head. They are then told the results of the nominations: Cassandra, Curtis, and Eddie each picked up three votes to each to be marked for banishment (as it was termed it back then), while George, Jamie, and Josh each received one vote each to remain safe. Afterwards, Cassandra was asked to retrieve a suitcase from the Red Room that contained $20,000.

After they all balked at the initial offer, Josh was asked to bring out yet another suitcase, and this one contained an additional $30,000 to raise the offer to $50,000, which was what was also offered that season for a third place finish. (That year, whoever finished second won $100,000.) After discussing it, that deal was also turned down.

The climatic moment came when, after mumbling to himself for a bit, George said to Eddie in a voice that sounded remarkably like Jack Nicholson’s, “Shut it, Eddie. I ain’t gonna take it.” Julie then asks them each individually one last time if they would like to take the $50K, and individually the answer is the same: no.

Visibly disappointed, Julie Chen congratulates the houseguests for their resolve. The following week, Cassandra would be the fifth contestant evicted on the 71st day the following week, with Eddie winning BB1 seventeen days later. The international format would also be marked for banishment after the season, replaced with the more “Survivor-ish” style that’s been used in the USA ever since.

A lot of people who followed the show that season thought that the most interesting houseguests being evicted early had a lot to do with the radical change in format, but my feeling has always been that this particular night shouldn’t go overlooked. Had Beth been sent in, and caused the tension to rise in the house, who knows? Perhaps the initial format would have survived at least another season had Beth and Jamie been at each other’s throats, for example.

On December 6th, a look back at another classic BB episode, with a year in a review post on January 3rd of 2016. Talk to you then!

A Conspiracy Theory About Conspiracy Theories

The many facial expressions of Vanessa captured in one pic.
The many facial expressions of Vanessa captured in one pic. Found out later on October 4th that @DVEm1 created the collage, so allow me to give the proper credit.

I used to be someone who believed that BB was rigged. There’s a YouTube video of me ranting and raving about that four years ago. It happened, and I can’t deny that I felt that way at one point.

Since I’ve gotten re-interested in Big Brother these past four seasons, my opinions about whether or not it’s a rigged show have done a 180 degree turn, basically because of some of the ludicrous theories that have been espoused by people supposedly in the know.

The most recent of these theories revolved around Vanessa Rousso being hand picked for the win, because CBS wanted her to host a reality/poker show tentatively called Poker Face. The Celeb Dirty Laundry site does a disservice to its viewers printing such dreck on their site, but I guess they don’t care about having integrity.

As Scott Hudson brilliantly pointed out on one of the final “Big Brother Gossip” podcasts during the season, it’s a crazy rumor because poker’s popularity has waned since the online poker rooms were closed down in 2011. If you’re going to prosper in poker, you should be near Las Vegas, Atlantic City, or one of the many casinos on Indian land nationwide.

(Full disclosure here once again: I once won $450 back in 2010 at a PokerStars WCOOP tournament, but I don’t think I ever played against Vanessa, who was sponsored there at some point before the 2011 poker boom went bust.)

Two years ago, the rumor was the fix was in for Amanda to win, but she didn’t even make the final night of the season. Had the rumor substituted Andy in place for Amanda, it would have been very accurate. Note that the most hand-picked houseguest that year, Elissa, also didn’t get close to winning.

I heard the rumors and murmurs last year about how Frankie was chosen to win beforehand, and once again the rumors were absurdly false. Frankie finished 5th, and was lucky and fortunate to get that far.

Here’s my opinion, and it’s just that, my opinion: if CBS was going to rig BB for someone to win (and I should point out that the “if” is so big, it should be next to the Hollywood sign out in LA), why would they rig it for a houseguest who already has other means of income such as Frankie or Vanessa? Wouldn’t it be wiser to create their own legends and mythology as opposed to boosting those already using up their 15 minutes of fame?

That theory also has flaws if you look at the history of who has won Big Brother in the past. How would Rachel’s win on BB13 be explained? Or Mike Boogie winning BB7?

That’s the problem with conspiracy theories. Can’t have one of them without that sprouting more of them, after that it’s a snowball running downhill.

Back next month for more…

Big Brothers Foreign And Domestic

James Hill won Celebrity UK last Thursday, beating out Austin Armacost for the title.
James Hill won Celebrity UK last Thursday, beating out Austin Armacost for the title.

Another Big Brother that had been followed in the US concluded the day after Steve Moses won BB17. With six housemates competing for fans votes to decide who wins, it was James Hill of the UK version of The Apprentice who beat out Austin Armacost in the final two to win. Atomic Kitten’s Natasha Hamilton had the best finish among the woman with her third place finish, with actor Bobby Davro fourth, the UK X-Factor duo of Stevi Ritchie and Chloe-Jasmine Winchello fifth (playing as one entry), and actress and TV presenter Sherrie Hewson taking sixth.

The show did not leave the airwaves without an international incident of sorts. What happened is not precisely clear, but let me try putting it together the best I can.

Two nights prior to the final on September 22nd during a post live show broadcast of Bit On The Side, Farrah Abraham and BBUK season seven’s Aisleyne Horgan-Wallace appeared to get into an argument that turned into a Jerry Springer style physical altercation that the UK network chose not to air, deciding to end “BOTS” about ten minutes early instead after choosing not to show the incident.

It is alleged that Farrah threw a champagne glass at Aisleyne, and that Janice Dickinson either threw a chair to deflect Farrah’s glass throwing or struck Farrah with the chair, or both. She was assaulted, according to British press reports, on two separate occasions during the fight.

Another panelist, Vicky Michelle, got caught in the crossfire with Farrah at one end of the podium and Aisleyne at the other. The 64 year old British actress most noted for appearing in the Britcom ‘Allo ‘Allo feared being blinded after being struck by the glass that Farrah threw, aiming for Aisleyne.

According to Jenna Jameson’s Twitter feed, the chair throwing by Janice Dickinson struck Farrah in the head and back. Other reports say Janice also had a bruise as a result of the melee. There are a round robin of lawsuits that have been filed over the incident, which should keep the British legal system busy for a while.

Imagine something like this happening on BB in the US? Might have been a big time news event if it had. If the UK’s Channel 5 Network would have aired the footage (as it most certainly might have been had something like that had happened here, rightly or wrongly), the events that took place would have been much clearer to report.

Here in the US, there are strong indications, mainly in The Hollywood Reporter, that next year’s BB will be the second all-star edition, perhaps marking the 10th anniversary of the first such edition back on BB7. If so, it looks like Vanessa Rousso (who just got engaged to girlfriend Mel, congrats!) wants to be back next year.

If she can play a slightly better social game, I wouldn’t bet against her, even against a higher level of competition. I think losing so close to the big money will eat at her and make her a force of nature if she plays again next year. It will just be matter of what kind of opposition she faces. Will production try to assemble a series of heavy hitters, or do what they did on BB7 and get a lot of soft targets back into the fray?

We’ll see. More next week as the blog returns to its off-season schedule of entries the first Sunday of each month.

Days 96-98: Steve Slays The Dragon

Van ponders while Liz and Steve play on Day 97.

In the end, they had spent 98 days in the house,the longest season in US Big Brother history, and had played somewhere around 2,350 hours. The price for gas went under $2 during that time in some parts of the United States, and several presidential candidates announced their run for the White House next year, with two even dropping out before this BB season came to a close. The season began with a few days left in spring, and concludes tonight, the first day of autumn.

After getting viewers up to speed, it was time for the final part of the final HOH competition, and what a final part it was. Vanessa, who won the first part last week, met Steve, the winner of part two Friday night. The winner would likely win the season, the loser would likely be the next evicted. If Vanessa won HOH, she’d be the HOH an unprecedented fifth time, but if Steve won, he’d tie the long standing record and become the ninth four-time HOH in a single season, and BB17 would be the first season two produce two such four-timers. Not only was this the biggest competition of the season, but probably with the historical and season’s ramifications on the line simultaneously, the biggest competition in show history.

I looked at this comp like I did the final HOH comp of BB14 three years ago. Like Ian Terry three years ago, I figured Steve would have to play this comp perfectly. Any mistake and Vanessa would likely pounce on it. The comp was the usual “finish what the jurors said” contest, and it was a burn-burner. Steve took the lead after the first question, and the two would answer questions similarly for the next five queries. On the next to last question, Vanessa and Steve answered differently, with Vanessa getting the question right to level the score at 4-4.

Either the last question based on what Johnny Mac said would decide the winner, or a tiebreaker would if they answered equally. The crowd noticeably murmured when Vanessa and Steve answered the last question differently, which meant the contest would end without a tiebreaker being needed. Here’s what I said on Twitter:

Vanessa’s incorrect answer cost her roughly $485,000, (she should get a $15,000 stipend or thereabouts) as she was subsequently evicted in third place, a moment many thought would never happen. It was down to Liz and Steve for the big money, and after about 45 minutes of hype, questions, and summations, it was Steve Moses, the 22 year old of Gouverneur, New York, won BB17 by a 6-3 vote. Liz took $50,000 for second, and James won the $25,000 for being America’s Favorite Player.

(The votes for Liz were: Julia, Austin, and surprisingly, Vanessa.)

Congratulations to all who took part this season. I’ve never wanted a season NOT to end before, but this one has left me that way. I guess there’s a first time for everything.

Sunday I’ll be back to recap the climax of Celebrity Big Brother in the UK that ends tomorrow. After that, I’ll be doing blog entries the first Sunday of each month until we know the BB18 houseguests (which may be a bunch of All-Stars) are in the house sometime in June of 2016, and from there I plan on resuming daily coverage until that season concludes.

What a season, what a finish.

Day 95: Cards, Luck, And Fate

They gave the remaining three cards last night, and being the poker pro that she is, Vanessa quickly took to them.
They gave the remaining three cards last night, and being the poker pro that she is, Vanessa quickly took to them.

With no activities left on the schedule until the conclusion of the season three and a half days from now, it’s getting rather dull in the house, which hasn’t gone lost on production.

When things get boring and aren’t improving anytime soon, production gives them things to amuse themselves as if they were elementary school kids. One such item was playing cards, with Vanessa successfully guessing the card Liz was holding at one point like she was both Penn and Teller combined. She then taught Liz and Steve gin rummy, which is another game that poker pros (like the late Stu Ungar) have in common with their enterprises at the poker tables.

A lot of people are already proclaiming Vanessa is the best female BB player of all time, and she very well may be. I just have this wild idea that the great players close the deals, and that is what separates the greats from the “very close to being great” among those who have played Big Brother in the US. In Survivor, they talk about how great Richard Hatch was, but you don’t hear the same argument made for Kelly Wiglesworth and her second place finish back in 2000, who is playing again in this most recent Survivor that begins the night BB17 concludes.

It can be a cruel thing at times, but everybody remembers winners, but fewer player remember who doesn’t win, fairly or not. If Vanessa doesn’t win in a few days, she always has poker to go back to if she wants.

I’ll be back right after the finale to wrap things up, as there’s a lack of activity in the house at present. If that should somehow change, I’ll return sooner.

Day 94: Clash Of The Titans

The BB17 final three, just after the show ended Wednesday night...
The BB17 final three, just after the show ended Wednesday night…

The second part of the HOH competition was played last night, and this time Steve punched his ticket to the very last competition of the season, finishing his puzzle some three minutes before Liz did hers in separate “time trials” over the same course.

This sets up perhaps the biggest HOH finale Big Brother has ever had in its 17 US seasons, and that’s not hyperbole on a couple of fronts.

Whoever wins HOH will get a slice of statistical history, because either Vanessa will have won her unprecedented fifth HOH title of the season, or Steve will be the ninth houseguest to win four in a season, which would yet again tie the long standing mark. It would also be the first time a season has produced two separate four-HOH winners should Steve reign supreme.

There’s much more than statistical supremacy at stake: whoever wins HOH likely takes the 500K at the end of the night, with Liz the probable winner of the 50K second place prize. Whoever loses will have done a lot of work to get third place and about 16K in stipend money.

Over on Celebrity Big Brother in the UK, it was “Teen Mom” Farrah Abraham who was evicted in an eviction twist. The top four vote-getters (remember that over there the public votes to save, not to evict, and the evictee is the one with the fewest votes, not the most) each got to save one of the remaining five housemates. In the end, this left Austin Armacost having to choose between Farrah and porn queen Jenna Jameson, with Jenna staying safe when Austin chose the 24 year old reality star to be booted.

Not a lot of activity left in the US side of things, but I’ll think of something to talk about as we inch closer to the end.

Day 93: Another Day, Another Austin

Austin Armacost might be heading out of Celebrity Big Brother later today...
Austin Armacost might be heading out of Celebrity Big Brother later today…

Yesterday on BB17 was the traditionally early wake-up call for breakfast so that Liz, Vanessa, and Steve could talk about their “memories” of being in the house all of this time that will air Sunday night. Other than that, they chatted and strategized, although by now there is very little strategy left in the game with just the last two parts of the last HOH left to be played.

Over in the United Kingdom, two more people are leaving London’s Big Brother house out of the remaining nine. Everyone is eligible for eviction in this particular stage (twists usually always revolve around the nomination process somehow), although the public vote is not a vote to evict, but rather to vote as to whom to save. The top four vote-getters will be safe from eviction once revealed, with the last five eligible to be leaving in some eviction twist yet to be revealed. Earlier this week, hostess Emma Willis had suggested that the evictions will pose some sort of dilemma for the four safe housemates, so we’ll just have to wait and see what it is.

(I think the twist will be a vote of some kind, with all nine houseguests getting to choose who to send home among the last five eligible for eviction. If it’s a tie, they’ll probably rock-paper-scissor to decide who stays…who knows.)

One housemate that could be going home is Austin Armacost, star of the reality show “The A-List” that lasted a couple of seasons earlier in the decade. The way the highlights show presented things last night, Austin was behaving boorishly, and even attempts at apologies has the house more angry at him with each passing word. The twist may save him, or more likely, it may seal his fate.

Two Austins eliminated from the game four days apart on two different English-speaking versions of the show? It could happen.

Thoughts From A Fan Since BB1


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