Floating In A Most Peculiar Way

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Danniella Westbrook was my pick to win the latest installment of Celebrity Big Brother, but finished 5th while making it to the final night.

There have now been more seasons of Celebrity Big Brothers (17) then there have been civilian versions (16), with the most recent version ending this past Friday night once again producing a winner that gets to extend his 15 minutes of reality fame in Scott Timlin, better known as Scotty T.

It was a season that was longer and had more houseguests than any other CBB edition, one of whom being Angie Bowie, the one-time wife of pop legend David Bowie. In an odd and morbid twist of fate, David passed away shortly after the season began on January 10th in New York City. Producers gave Angie the option to leave the show any time she chose, and to the surprise of many fans, she initially chose to stay in. She’d change her mind later, leaving on Day 15.

There were the usual mix of British stars mixed in with lesser known American counterparts, among them Tiffany Pollard from a menagerie of reality shows on VH-1 revolving around dating. “New York,” as she is also known by, did the best among the “Yanks” with a fourth place finish, lasting until the show’s final day.

Once again, there was controversy at the end of this edition of CBB, as was the case on the last season ending in the summer of 2015 with Farrah Abraham initiating a brawl. Gaz Beadle, who was a roommate of Scotty’s on Geordie Shore (which is much like the MTV’s Jersey Shore, set over in England and also produced by MTV’s counterparts in the UK), tricked Snapchat viewers into thinking he was somehow live in the Geordie house . When Gaz gave out the house phone number, he was actually giving the number where someone could vote for Scotty to win Celebrity Big Brother.

Even with the chicanery and votes being disqualified by the UK’s Channel 5 Network, Scotty was able to win the season in later voting stages (with the vote count reset, not carried over), though the incident will no doubt be a black eye for the show and the network moving forward amongst more intelligent fans.

Personally, I lost interest once David Bowie died, though it had nothing to do with the show. Didn’t think the possible anguish and grief Angie may have had was meant for all of us to see, even on a reality show. Though I thought it was the right thing for producers to give Angie Bowie the option to stay to go, I was shocked when Angie initially chose to stay, even though the two had not been close for a long time.

As for the voting kerfuffle, that’s something Channel 5 might want to look into when they cast future seasons, with one presumably on the way this summer. I’d love to see Vanessa Rousso go over to the UK and see how long she’d last with the ability to compete for power not an option for her, which saved her butt so many times on BB17 last year. Plus, a US Big Brother houseguest has never been on a UK version of the show, so I wouldn’t seeing that bubble burst. I’d have to assume it’s never happened due to different companies owning rights to the show in each country, if I had to guess.

More for you on March 6th, with a look at the first few days of Big Brother Canada 4, which is scheduled to get underway March 2nd.

The Year That Was, The Year That Will Be

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BB 17’s Meg and James, joined by BB15’s Gina Marie.

The year of 2015 in BB is probably going to be remembered as the year Vanessa Rousso should have won, as opposed to the year Steve Moses did win. But you know all of this already, so let’s take a look at the other BB games in England and Canada this past year.

They play three Big Brothers in the UK: a winter Celebrity version, a civilian version, and a summertime Celebrity version. The 15th CBB that took place in the winter was won by Katie Price and featured a series of controversial antics by blogger and columnist Perez Hilton, playing up drama in the house to the hilt before his eviction on the 29th of 31 days, finishing sixth.

Chloe Wilburn won a record amount of £116,100 (about $172,000 US) on the civilian version across the pond, getting the most votes to win on the show’s 66th and final day. The prize is usually £100,000 for the winner, but a twist known as the “Cash Bomb” near the end of the season fluctuated the prize between £40,900 and £150,000 with a series of tasks that resulted in rewards and punishments.

A couple of months later, the last CBB of the year pitted eight Brit housemates (with two playing as single entity: Stevi Ritchie and Chloe-Jasmine Whichello) against seven American counterparts. This particular season lasted 29 drama-filled days with the Brits claiming victory in the person of James Hill. A-List reality star Austin Armacost finished highest amongst Americans with a second place finish.

Sarah Hanlon won Canada’s third season of Big Brother, a 70-day twist filled extravaganza, defeating fellow Toronto resident Godfrey Mangwiza 7-2 in the final vote. Hanlon won $100,000 (currently worth about $72,000 US) for her efforts, plus a $10,000 trip to anywhere in the world of her choice, and a $25,000 home makeover.

On to my three predictions for 2016:

The US version’s 18th season will bring back a renovated Battle Of The Block with a new twist. There will no longer be two teams of two battling it out, but four individuals battling for safety. The winner dethrones one of the two temporary HOH’s of his/her choice, while the second place finisher remains nominated, but can choose whoever he/she wants for the Power of Veto competition.

The casting for BB18 will include eighteen houseguests. They will include a transgendered man born a woman, plus a set of male triplets who will initially play as twins. One triplet will play as himself constantly while the second and third triplets will alternate playing as the second “twin” until the first houseguest has been evicted.

Finally, there will be ongoing rumors of cancellation for the US series with the ratings doing poorly during the Rio Olympics in August. The rumors will seem to be false until CBS announces at the end of BB18 that the 20th season of Big Brother will be the last on the network in 2018. (The 19th season will be the last regular version, the 20th being a second All-Star version.) Speculation will mount by the end of the year as to whether or not another network will pick the series up, or if it will leave the airwaves for good.

Next month, a look at the first UK Celebrity Big Brother of 2016. Look for that entry on February 7th, Super Bowl Sunday.

That’s What Yellow Does To You

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Shannon from BB2: the original “bad girl” of Big Brother…

This month’s look at “Days Gone By” takes a look back at the ninth episode of the revamped Big Brother 2, airing on July 24th, 2001.

Up to this point, New Jerseyite Justin had been disqualified on Day 10 after a night of drunken debauchery with Krista somehow left him holding a knife to her throat in an act of disturbing foreplay. Two nights later, Sheryl was the victim to the often used and abused “pawn” strategy of targeting one houseguest, and using another as bait as a sure fire way of removing them.

As often seems to happen, the rest of the house saw right through the plans of the first ever HOH, Mike “Boogie” Malin, a name we would hear from a few more times in this show’s history. Next to fall at the hands of new HOH Krista the following week was the often victimized Autumn, whom Boogie made improper advances towards, while Shannon had left a bag potato chips in her bed after the aspiring singer called the buffed-up model/realtor a “prim princess” to her face.

It couldn’t have been a surprise to viewers that the third HOH, the aristocratic Hardy Hill, had a strategy to drive a wedge into the Chilltown alliance of Shannon, Will, and Boogie. On Day 21, he nominated Will and Shannon, the first ever “showmance” in BB history. With the “Power of Veto” twist a season away, it assured that this first-ever house couple would be broken up, and while Will took it somewhat well, Shannon called Hardy a “coward” on multiple occasions.

Bunky, Shannon, Kent, and Nicole won a luxury competition where teams swapped identical but differently colored clothing to get their wash professionally dry cleaned that week. In the first two Survivor-style BB seasons, the house had a dryer, but no washer. It meant houseguests had to wash their clothes by hand, which many found a tedious process. America’s Choice. a segment where fans had input into house developments, brought the group a brand new toaster.

After a few brief segments covering minor moments of the house, we cut to a moment where Shannon is covered up in towels on her way back from the shower. Finding something humorous (though we never find out exactly what), Hardy is brushing his teeth with an electric toothbrush, laughing away. Shannon, thinking the laughing was at her, seethed and vowed revenge. What happened next was an unforgettable moment in early US Big Brother history, as she would take Hardy’s toothbrush and cleaned the house commode with it.

Shortly after her brief efforts, the automated voice on Don Wollman summoned Shannon to the Diary Room. Production and Shannon hatched a plan to tell Hardy that the head of the now fouled electric toothbrush had been broken, which Hardy quickly found suspicious, calling her explanation asinine, eventually confronting her.

Eventually, Shannon had to pay restitution for the damage done in her fit of rage. This begs the question: had Justin not been disqualified on Day 10, would Shannon have gotten the boot  from show producers for destroying Hardy’s toothbrush? A hard question to answer.

The house had a counter-alliance known as TOP (The Other People) with Hardy as their leader, along with Nicole, Kent, Bunky, Monica as firm members. The reigning HOH was also working at that time in a partnership with Krista, although some, most notably Kent, didn’t think Krista was a full-fledged member of the alliance. At this point in the season, Hardy wanted his alliance members to remain loyal to him, while Kent was beginning to have doubts in his leadership.

Bunky offered prayers one night before the entire house sat for dinner, and found it hard to find the words to express himself, overcome with emotions. While others paid their respect, it seemed Shannon and other members of Chilltown led the way in not containing their laughter at Bunky’s sincerity. Monica quickly took those laughing to task, pointing out their disrespect. This did not lead to improving house rapport, as Kent and Shannon had a brief verbal spat to the dismay of the others, comparing how they thought each had been rude to the other inside the house.

The episode culminated with a weekly held house meeting, the forerunner of the veto meeting that would be held from BB3 onward. The meeting tended to resemble a group therapy session you’d find in a psychiatrists office, with houseguests free to express themselves as they saw fit. Kent took the opportunity to ask Shannon to clear the air about the toothbrush incident, something Shannon had no intention of explaining any further.

Hardy interjected on Kent’s behalf, though Kent felt his questions deserved answers and re-attempted to interject. Hardy and Shannon both insisted he be quiet so that they and they alone could argue. They exchanged veiled threats at each other, for which Hardy strangely apologized for moments later. The episode ended with Hardy and Nicole in the hammock, with Hardy crying, wondering how he had become such an ugly person.

A couple of days later, Shannon was the fourth houseguest to exit via a unanimous 6-0 vote, which left Will in the game. Kent would become the fourth HOH a few minutes afterward, which would lead to him becoming the first of two HOH’s to ever execute Mike “Boogie” Malin from the game. Eleven years later, Shane Meaney would do likewise on BB14.

It also led to Kent’s downfall in the game, belaying the seemingly inevitable blowup between Kent and Hardy for a week. The following week, Hardy won HOH a second time, going after and evicting the Tennessee conservative with an unlikely friendship with Bunky. Many felt that when Kent reigned as HOH, he had become a powermonger, with many in his alliance seizing the moment to turn the tables on him.

This is my last post for the year of 2015. I wish you all a Merry Christmas (or the nearly year-end religious holiday that is your preference), and a Happy New Year in 2016. Next month, a look back at all the English-speaking BB games that took place in 2015.

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.

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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

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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, who 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.

Thoughts From A Fan Since BB1

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