'Big Brother': In the house and on the air

NEW YORK - Well, they're all moved in and the tape is rolling.

But TV viewers already knew that. Operating on a one-day lag, CBS' ''Big Brother'' premiered Wednesday by showing the arrival of 10 strangers the night before who will share a house (and 28 TV cameras) for the next three months.

''Houseguests, are you ready?'' asked host Julie Chen, as the 10 contestants stood at the threshold of the 1,800-square-foot home built at a Los Angeles-area studio lot.

Then they stepped into the house, where the dozens of cameras and microphones will track their cohabitation for the next 39 days on national TV and the Internet. The one remaining resident at the end will be $500,000 richer.

That was the end of the first ''Big Brother'' episode.

The hour that preceded was a mostly breathless buildup to the series to come, which CBS will air five nights a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday).

Chen, who by day is a Manhattan-based news reader for CBS' ''Early Show,'' did a perky to-and-fro with another host, Ian O'Malley, who gave a tour of the house, showing off the infrared cameras in the bedrooms and the chickens in the enclosed backyard.

Footage of the original Dutch version of ''Big Brother'' served as padding.

And, for the first time, the 10 houseguests were announced and profiled:

- Jamie, a beauty queen who works for a Seattle dot-com company. She expects to miss her daily lattes.

- George, a jolly roofer from Rockford, Ill. Says what he'll miss most is his family and his 23rd wedding anniversary.

- Eddie, a hunky lad from New York's Long Island who lost his left leg to cancer. A wheelchair basketball star and a student at the University of Texas, he vows, ''I'm not gonna quit. I have the stamina.''

- Josh, described as a ladies' man and a college student who lost his mother when he was 14. He says he plans to bring to the house a pair of work gloves and a box of condoms.

- Cassandra, a New Yorker who works as a communications specialist at the United Nations.

- Jordan, a writer and a dancer at a ''gentleman's club.''

- Curtis, a New York-based law clerk to a federal judge. He's a self-described Christian who says he's ready for hanky-panky at the house.

- Karen, a Columbus, Ind., mother of four and wife of 22 years. Looks forward to a little time for herself, even with nine strangers: ''I'll only be taking care of myself.''

- Brittany, who works at a drug company she describes as very conservative, then after work puts in her nose ring and goes out dancing.

- William, who loves women, works out, works with children, and shaves his bald head twice a day.

At the end of the show, ''the moment we've all been waiting for'' (as Chen gushed) finally came, and so did the 10 houseguests in a caravan of 10 SUVs.

America Online, which maintains the ''Big Brother'' Web site for CBS, activated the site shortly after the show ended on the East Coast to preserve suspense as tenants were introduced.

Ultimately, viewers will get at least four live feeds from the house around the clock. CBS picks the cameras used at any given time, editing out nudity and profanity.

In keeping with CBS' gameplan that ''Big Brother'' will attract a younger viewing audience, the houseguests skew young and attractive.

The ''Big Brother'' bunch got there by sending in videotaped applications and undergoing what CBS called extensive screening and background checks.

The show's debut aired 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.


On the Net: http://BigBrother2000.com


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