HOLLYWOOD — The remaining “Big Brother” house inhabitants say they may walk away from it all. And Sunday night, CBS said it may, too.
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. The plot to walk out during Wednesday’s upcoming live show, when the next housemate was scheduled to be ousted, was made public on the CBS show’s companion Webcast on Saturday.
“This is unscripted television, and it’s very unpredictable,” a CBS spokesman said. “We’re watching this develop on the Internet just like everyone else.”
“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.
It’s unlikely producers or CBS will do anything to get the houseguests to stay in their Studio City “prison.” “Producers have told them the door’s always open for them to leave,” he said. “They have the right to leave.”
Industry insiders believe it’s unlikely CBS would simply replace all of the houseguests in the event of a mass exodus, though the option exists. It’s more likely the Eye would simply end the show — and save more than $500,000 by not having to pay off a winner.
It’s unclear what motivated the contestants to make the threat; in some of their discussions, they’ve spoken about not wanting to see another comrade banished. But CBS spokeswoman Diane Ekeblad suggested the players may have a different motive.
“They think that they’re all going to win money if they leave together. … They definitely would not,” she said.
The contestants’ conversations broadcast live on the Internet, however, didn’t indicate they were expecting payment.
“I’m OK with walking away from this with nothing, just memories,” one player said.
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.
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.
Last Wednesday, an effort was made to lure a player out of the house with a $50,000 incentive so that 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.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)