I’ve read one particular Andy Denhart article on Reality Blurred several times about the finals casting process, and I read it again today. Since I’m years beyond any contractual obligation to CBS I’m going to add to what is already a very accurate description of what really happened/happens, during finals casting. Finals casting happens a couple of week before the premiere, it’s like Reality Television Casting Olympics. And I was going for gold.
I won’t touch on all of Andy’s bullet points, but I will confirm that:
~ I was flown to L.A. where I stayed during the finals casting, on CBS’s dime plus the $50 per diem aka “allowance” we could use for meals or whatever. At the time I had plenty of money so I went through their $50 and spent some of my own on top of it every day at the gift shop and the bar and wherever I could hang out during my 45 minutes of free time. The rest of the time was very controlled or spent in my room.
~ For dinner, we had the option of eating in the restaurant or the hotel’s bar or just in our rooms. I ate at the restaurant once and I felt like a hooker with other hookers waiting for clients at tables, with our pimp PAs watching us to make sure none of the hookers talked to each other. So after that I just ate dinner in my room.
~ I did sit through “interviews” with all the executive producers, including Allison Grodner and Arnold Shapiro and other major BB decision-makers in the same room at all times. There were always cameramen and other assistants in the room during these interviews and everyone in the room could watch me on a television screen nearby. It’s weird all of a sudden being in front of bright lights and wearing a windy microphone with a bulky pack, but I loved it. These interviews were where they delved deeper into some of the questions you’d answered previously, eliminating people left and right if you didn’t give them that “something” they wanted.
~ I did not get to watch television, and as a matter of fact our televisions were removed from our rooms anyway, and we could get a DVD player and a movie or some video game. That was it. And we were not really allowed to “call people” unless it was an “emergency”.
~ I did get to go from interview to test to meals “by myself” aka without a PA, but I did have to “check-in” like a house-arrest inmate, by calling the production office when I got back to my room.
~ I DID look at another finalist during breakfast one day and she looked back at me, even though we’re instructed NOT to. Because SHIT, it’s unnatural and so at some point you end up making eye contact with somebody accidentally for just a fleeting moment.
~ I did notice numbers dwindling as some of the weirder girls left. I remember Dana had been at finals with me the longest while other women were cut.
~ I did meet with the show’s psychologist, and it was an easy conversation about me and I never felt like my head was shrinking the entire session.
~ I did meet with a “celebrity psychologist”, Alan Downs, and he asked me some questions and I remember he asked me specifically how “manipulative” I was. Apparently that was what he got from me, and so we chat about my skills in manipulation and why I would win Big Brother. Basically.
~ I did take a standardized IQ test and went through multiple personality assessments, and I remember sitting there with my Scantron sheet and No. 2 pencil in one of the banquet halls at the hotel…and I felt so goofy like I was in high school again.
The psych evaluations were not FBI profiler-thorough, in reference to whether or not current Big Brother 15 houseguests would have been evaluated as “racist” or “misogynist” or “homophobe”. But I believe the personality assessments would provide information as to strengths and weakness and volatility of the potential houseguests, based on some of the questions on the tests. The evaluation isn’t diagnostic and more personality-focused than behavioral-focused, at least that was the case my year.
~ I did provide “bio samples” to the show’s doctors for a full medical, and I also had to get a full physical from my personal primary care physician. Big Brother wanted to know how healthy I was physically and mentally and sexually. Listen up people, you CAN go into the Big Brother house healthy and come out diseased, which is why I can’t understand why people have so much unprotected fluid swapping in there.
~ I did receive a schedule at the start of finals casting with blocks of time for meals and “Producers, Medical, Psych A, Psych B, Call Back, and Written Test” and scheduled free time. But “Scheduled free time” is an oxymoron isn’t it? The schedule ran with barely any hiccups and the production team was on top of their shit.
I could go on, but I can tell you that the finals casting process hasn’t changed much since my BB days. Everything I did during finals casting was documented and surveyed, and I saw just how focused the behind-the-scenes crew were and they really busted their asses to get a final cast nailed down. I say this because we give “production” so much shit all the time, yet it’s never the guy behind the camera or the gal running scheduling that get enough thank yous.
The summer I went through finals casting, I only had good things to say about everyone who worked in production. They’re good hardworking people. There’s so much unnecessary filth thrown at Allison Grodner and her crew, and over what. A summer reality show? Alleged rigging? These people at CBS are real people, and they’re the people who called to check on me after my season ended, and to ask about the condition of my father as he became frailer with each call, and they paid their respects from afar when my dad passed away the following year.
I say all this without having planned it. It just came out. That’s what she said…
And for the record, these people actually signed up for the show the real way without a casting agent:
And we all know the rest of the cast just happened to be some of our exes.
Thanks again, to Andy, for always putting it all out there.