'Big Brother' Contestant Kicked Off Show
Jul 11 2001 10:50PM
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A contestant on the CBS reality series "Big Brother 2" was kicked off the show on Wednesday after he put a knife to the neck of a woman "house guest" he was kissing and said, "I'm going to slash your throat," network officials said.
The contestant, known only to viewers as Justin, the muscular 26-year-old bartender and office worker from Bayonne, New Jersey, was expelled a short time after the 12:30 a.m. PDT incident involving fellow player Krista, 28, a divorced mother and waitress from Louisiana, with whom he had been getting cozy.
The two contestants had been "partying" earlier that night and appeared to have been under the influence of alcohol during their encounter, a network source said. No one was hurt.
The incident, which occurred after hours, did not air on television but presumably was seen by anyone watching live, round-the-clock video footage from inside the house shown on the show's Web site, (http://www.cbs.com/primetime/bigbrother/
network officials said.
CBS officials said Justin, who had emerged as the foul-mouthed tough guy on the show, was previously warned about unruly behavior after stealing the pillow of another house guest during Tuesday night's episode.
"To ensure the safety of all house guests, intimidation, violence and even the threat of violence will not be tolerated," CBS said in a statement announcing his expulsion.
Executive Producer Arnold Shapiro said in the statement that Justin's conduct "crossed the line of tolerable and acceptable behavior and was a blatant violation of the house rules we established. As much as we like Justin, we really had no choice but to expel him from the house."
Shapiro later told Reuters the 30-second incident was "bizarre" and completely unexpected.
"This certainly wasn't a stunt that was staged by anyone," Shapiro said. "It was a spontaneous event that Justin thought would be funny, and it wasn't."
The CBS version of the wildly popular European-born reality show isolates 12 strangers together in a specially built house wired with 38 cameras and 62 microphones that monitor their every move over the course of nearly three months.
Responding to criticism that the first edition of the CBS show last summer was often dull, producers said they had hoped to spice up the second edition by casting individuals who were more competitive, uninhibited and outgoing. In Justin, Shapiro said, he ended up with someone who went too far.
According to a CBS account taken from a transcript of the encounter between Justin and Krista, the two were intermittently kissing and talking in the kitchen of the house when Justin picked up a large knife and put it to her throat and said, "Wait, hang on. I'm going to slash your throat. Would you get mad if I killed you?"
Without appearing to react, Krista replied, "No, but I want some water." Moments later, he repeated the question, "No, seriously, would you get mad if I killed you?"
Justin then put the knife away, the two kissed again and parted company before producers spoke up over an intercom, instructing him to talk to a staff psychologist in the "diary room," a chamber where contestants occasionally communicate with producers on camera, Shapiro said.
He said no one physically intervened during the incident because it was over in 30 seconds and producers were too far away to get to the kitchen immediately. He added there was no sign that Krista was alarmed by Justin's behavior.
"I was not getting an audio feed at that moment, I'm just getting a picture, so I had to go with facial expressions," Shapiro said. "He was not out of control, he was not ranting, and she was not shrieking in fear. So the body language was totally opposite from the bizarre thing he was doing."
Shapiro said Justin later told him, "'You know I would never hurt anybody"' and acknowledged having had three beers earlier that night but did not appear to be intoxicated.
While conceding that the episode could spark greater interest in the show, Shapiro said it left him shaken.
"I was quoted as saying in TV Guide several months ago that the outrageous reality shows would eventually lead to somebody's death," Shapiro said. "But I was not referring to a reality show where 12 people live in a house. I was referring to some of these action-adventure ones where people are doing things that only professional stunt people should be doing."
He did not elaborate.
The network said Justin's removal would not affect the series' normal "eviction" process, in which contestants vote one person off the show every week, with the last person remaining winning $500,000. Shapiro said the other contestants were told only that Justin was removed for breaking the rules.