Rebellious 'Big Brother' contestants threaten walkout

LOS ANGELES - Rebellion was afoot Saturday in the ''Big Brother'' house.

The reality show's six remaining contestants threatened to march out of the camera-filled house in which they've been sequestered since July, forgoing their shot at the $500,000 prize in what they called a blow against avarice.

''Some things in life are more important than money,'' one contestant said.

''Society is now sane, or we've proven it can be sane. It doesn't have to be that downward spiral of greed,'' said another.

The plot to walk out on Wednesday's live show, when the next housemate was scheduled to be ousted, was made public on the CBS show's companion Webcast. Some players expressed doubt that all would follow through on the pact.

''Big Brother'' was scheduled to end Sept. 30 with one grand prize winner, the person who survived ouster votes by fellow players and TV viewers. The show began with 10 contestants.

A CBS spokeswoman suggested the players might have a different motive.

''They think that they're all going to win money if they leave together. ... They definitely would not,'' said CBS' Diane Ekeblad.

The contestants' conversations broadcast live on the Internet, however, didn't indicate they were expecting payment.

''They (CBS) will capitalize on it (the walkout),'' one player said. ''I'm OK with walking away from this with nothing, just memories.''

The scheme was suggested by contestant George, a 41-year-old Illinois roofing contractor.

The series, which airs six nights a week, was scheduled to see either Eddie, Curtis or Cassandra - the three players marked for banishment - voted out Wednesday. Other remaining players are Josh and Jamie.

''We're watching it unfold as anybody on the Internet is watching it unfold,'' Ekeblad said. CBS' response ''all depends on what happens. There's no way to know what steps will be taken since we don't know what they're going to do.''

''The rule always has been anybody is free to leave voluntarily,'' she said.

The revolt is yet another reason for CBS to regret ''Big Brother.'' The show, which critics blasted as cheap voyeurism, has been far from the hit the network enjoyed with its other summer reality series, the island competition ''Survivor.''

American reaction to ''Big Brother'' has been vastly different than in Europe, where versions of the show proved hits in Holland, Spain and Germany.

In an effort to juice up the often-dull proceedings within the house built on a CBS parking lot, the producers have tried tinkering with the formula - which has annoyed contestants and viewers.

On Wednesday, an effort was made to lure a player out of the house with a $50,000 incentive so a new contestant, an attractive, opinionated young blonde, could be brought in. None of the six would agree to leave.

''Congratulations on your resolve,'' series host Julie Chen told them in a disappointed voice.

Some viewers are likely to cheer the players' revolt. Jeff Oswald, a video technician from Charlotte, N.C., chipped in to send a plane over the house last month with a banner message for contestants: '' 'Big Brother' is worse than you think. Get out now.''

To Oswald, the show is cruel as well as boring. He believes the producers are playing mind games with participants in a stressful situation.

''This is a lot like when you go to a zoo,'' he said last month. ''If the monkeys aren't doing anything, you poke them with a stick.''

If the monkeys are poking back, they may need to be careful. CBS had ''Survivor'' contestants sign a detailed contract which, among other things, severely restricted their post-show activities and endorsements.

It's likely the ''Big Brother'' agreement is equally strict, but the contestants do have in-house counsel: player Curtis is an attorney from New York.


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