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.
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!