Saturday, October 14, 2000
'Big Brother' Cast Is Meeting Big Yawns
Television * Hollywood hasn't shown much interest in the house guests who were on the reality series, unlike the in-demand 'Survivor' contestants.
By GREG BRAXTON, Times Staff Writer
"Big Brother" is no longer watching the "Big Brother" house guests.
And neither are you.
The contestants on CBS' hit reality series "Survivor" have become an
inescapable fixture on the Hollywood scene during the past several
weeks--book deals, endorsements, TV guest shots, talk shows. One even
scored a major role in an upcoming film comedy.
But while the "Survivor" islanders were hot immediately after the
series' conclusion in August, the heat is already off for most of the
house guests on CBS' other "reality" series "Big Brother," which ended a
little more than two weeks after that series ended.
Though many of the "Big Brother" contestants have hired agents,
managers and publicists, most already have been marked for banishment
from the national spotlight, slipping back into the same obscurity they
had before entering the "Big Brother" house in July.
Studios, networks and producers of shows such as "JAG," "Nash
Bridges," "Hollywood Squares," "The Hughleys," "Live With Regis" and E!
Entertainment's "Talk Soup" have featured or courted "Survivor"
participants, but the "Big Brother" house guests who have aspirations of
stardom have met little enthusiasm in Hollywood.
"The folks on 'Big Brother' just didn't have that water cooler
quotient we look for," said a spokesperson for E! Entertainment, which
had some of the "Survivor" contestants hosting its "Talk Soup" series.
"They were pitched to us, but it just wasn't as exciting as having a
Part of the disparity stems from the obvious physical and formulaic
differences between the two series. "Survivor" took place on an exotic,
picturesque island in the South China seas; "Big Brother" was in a house
on a studio lot in the San Fernando Valley. "Survivor" had snakes and
bugs; "Big Brother" had a dog. "Survivor' had lush trees and an ocean;
"Big Brother" had Ikea furniture. "Survivor" was on only once a week;
"Big Brother" was shown almost every day.
* * * But the real key to how long that "15 minutes" lasted is the "casts"
themselves, observers maintain. "Survivor" was populated with distinct
and engaging personalities locked in bitter conflict or tight alliances.
But the "Big Brother" housemates were largely a group that got
along--burying their differences and conflicts. The result was what some
critics and viewers labeled boring television.
Said one agent at a prominent Hollywood talent agency: "The producers
were so concerned that their casting was perfect that they put in people
[where] there was no conflict, no spark. They needed conflict to make it
Tom Bergeron, host of "Hollywood Squares," which featured several
members of "Survivor" as panelists, said, " 'Survivor' had top-notch
production and great personalities. But 'Big Brother' was nothing more
than a cure for Peeping Toms. Those folks were just whiny. And they kept
changing the rules of the house. It was embarrassing, like watching
something falling apart in front of you."
Several of the "Big Brother" cast mates have been testing the water in
Hollywood, but the reaction is lukewarm.
Eddie McGee, the 21-year-old big winner of "Big Brother," will guest
on "Hollywood Squares" during November. There are no plans by the show to
feature other "Big Brother" contestants.
Brittany Petros, a former sales representative who was one of the most
popular among the housemates, has signed with the William Morris Agency
and has gone on a few auditions, but has yet to be hired. Jamie Kern, who
was known as the "beauty queen" because of her current title as Miss
Washington USA, came to town this week for a series of meetings with
producers and agents. But her most promising prospect was an unspecified
role on the NBC soap "Days of Our Lives."
William "Mega" Collins, an African American youth counselor who was
the most controversial of the "Big Brother" house guests--confronting his
housemates on racial and social issues--said he has been pursuing book
deals and show business opportunities, but there are no concrete offers.
His post-"Big Brother" experience is even more frustrating given his
friendship with Gervase Peterson, a "Survivor" who has turned up on
several shows, including a guest host stint on "Live With Regis" and "The
"I just thought it would be much easier than it's turning out to be,"
Collins said. "It probably has to do with the way I was portrayed on the
show. Things are so busy for Gervase, but so slow for me. 'Big Brother'
It's a formula imported from Europe that played much differently
there. In country after country 10 strangers lived in isolation from the
outside world, including their families, under one roof with their every
move recorded, and turned into overnight sensations.
In the U.S., the series attracted a respectable audience of about 9
million viewers a night, including a young demographic coveted by CBS and
advertisers. But it fell far short of the phenomena of "Survivor," which
averaged more than 25 million viewers each episode.
One executive associated with "Big Brother" said what diminished the
"Big Brother" house guests' entertainment value was their decision to
bond rather than establish their individuality. He added, "Also, the most
popular people on the Web site were the first ones eliminated."
Still, several of the "Big Brother" contestants are determined to
Petros is in the process of moving to Los Angeles, and she hopes to
land a job as a "VJ or talk-show host that will allow me to be myself."
Another dream would be to host a future edition of "Big Brother" or a
reality show. She's also planning on taking acting classes.
Perhaps the most driven is Kern, who said she aspires to be "the next
Said Kern: "I know this is a very tough industry, but I'm open to
doing anything as far as TV and films. It's what I'm passionate about. I
know that we on 'Big Brother' haven't gotten as big a boost as the people
on 'Survivor,' but I believe that hard work pays off. I plan to give this
everything I've got."
* * * One entertainment executive suggested Kern may have hurt herself when
she was given a choice in one of the episodes to spend five minutes with
her mother, who had flown in to the studio, or a talent agent. Kern chose
the talent agent.
"That was just a stupid thing to do," the executive said. "If she had
met with her mom, everyone would have loved her. It would have showed she
cared about family, and would have made for great conversation during
meetings. Coming off the show, she would have been meeting with agents
anyway. She lost many fans that night."
Ex-housemate Cassandra Waldon, an official with the United Nations,
said she wanted to continue her job, but hoped to stay in the public eye
with TV appearances and some writing.
Said Waldon: "The 'Survivor' folks have had more time to get their
deals together. We're working on ours, and I and the others have gotten a
lot of fan response. As time goes on, we'll see."
Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times