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'Big Brother' Contestant Evicted for His Behavior

July 12, 2001|BRIAN LOWRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Reality" programming became a little too real for CBS on Wednesday, as the network ejected a contestant from "Big Brother 2" who seemed to pose a threat to other "house guests" sequestered for the unscripted series--at one point holding a knife to a young woman's throat.

The contestant, a 26-year-old bartender from Bayonne, N.J., identified only as Justin, left the Studio City venue--where the dozen contestants are constantly monitored by 38 cameras--after receiving a warning from producers about his behavior, which included racially abusive comments, an altercation with another male contestant and the knife-wielding incident, which occurred as he and the woman kissed after they had been drinking.

The atmosphere in the house prompted several contestants to discuss leaving the program voluntarily.

Viewers of the show's pay-to-view Internet feed were also abuzz over a three-way sexual encounter Tuesday involving Justin and two female house guests, although the feed went black when it appeared one of the women began performing oral sex on him.

Executive producer Arnold Shapiro issued a statement: "The safety and well-being of the house guests will always be our top priority. In our view, Justin's behavior crossed the line of tolerable and acceptable behavior....We really had no choice but to expel him."

After drawing so-so ratings with the inaugural edition last summer, CBS revised the format and sought to "cast" contestants who provided "the possibility of more uninhibited behavior," Shapiro told The Times before the show's premiere.

"Big Brother 2" made its debut July 5 and is scheduled to run three times a week into September. Ratings have again been mediocre but passable by summer standards, drawing 8.3 million viewers Tuesday.

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