Big ‘Brother’ plans

Dutch b'caster Veronica seeks phenom tie-ins

AMSTERDAM — If Veronica, the Dutch channel that started the “Big Brother” phenom, has its way, viewers in this territory will not be able to escape from the fly-on-the-wall program, whose second season is set to launch here Sept. 14.

Veronica is in talks over the possible launch of a 24-hour pay web to accompany the program this season. “Big Brother” will also be complemented by a Web site, as it was last year.

And if that isn’t enough, Veronica also plans to break into regularly skedded evening programming on its channel with news flashes and updates from “Big Brother” “whenever something big is happening,” said Kim Koppenol, head of press for Veronica parent group Holland Media Group.

“Big Brother” launched on Veronica a little less than a year ago and became the most successful entertainment program in Holland in 1999. Produced by John de Mol Produkties and distributed by Endemol Entertainment, the format has crossed to a number of European territories, and the U.S. version is currently airing on CBS.

Pay version?

Koppenol said Veronica was in talks with cable channels about the possible launch of a pay TV or pay-per- view companion web, but no real details have yet been nailed down.

She added, however, that in the show’s second season, Veronica plans to “push the envelope” and make it much tougher for contestants than it was the first time around, although the 250,000 guilder ($109,000) prize will remain the same.

During the first season of “Big Brother,” contestants performed a few tasks, but mainly sat around and chatted all day.

In the new edition, they will be “even more isolated” and will have to bake their bread, tend a garden and generally provide for more of their own sustenance, Koppenol said.