Oh, brother: CBS is back with 'Big Brother 2'

FRAZIER MOORE
AP Television Writer
Published Sunday, July 08, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) -- The new house is snazzy. The neighborhood is still one that viewers should avoid.

A year to the day since "Big Brother" began its three-month reign of boredom, "Big Brother 2" premiered Thursday night on CBS for an 11-week season of contrived voyeurism.

"It's you against them in a summer-long power struggle," returning host Julie Chen told the 12 contestants as they entered the house, built on a Los Angeles studio lot. "Privacy * that's a thing of the past."

In the spirit of "the show must go on," CBS has attempted to inject life into last summer's dismal spectacle by bringing in veteran producer Arnold Shapiro, whose many credits include the Oscar-winning documentary "Scared Straight!"

"Big Brother 2" remains tacky and stupid, but Shapiro has performed the minor miracle of giving it style.

Under his command, the house is vastly improved from last year's barebones-and-Ikea affair ("Sweet!" sums up one of the new arrivals). Meanwhile, the dozen houseguests are far more eye-appealing than last year's crop of 10.

And more provocative. "We all need to get up and take our damn clothes off and get it over with," crows Nicole * "you know what I'm saying?"

Sure! By bedtime, Autumn is hitting on Hardy.

This time, he declines. But 38 cameras and 62 microphones are arrayed to catch any action that does take place, night or day.

During Thursday's taped excerpts, the first bit of action was a get-acquainted challenge to win food. The houseguests were asked to load bags of groceries and themselves into a car parked in the backyard. They performed this frat-house prank with dispatch.

Then the second contest: The last person to leave the car would become its owner. Kent won the car, and probably lost friends.

This summer, "Big Brother" airs three nights per week (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. EDT), rather than last year's six weekly telecasts.

As before, the grand prize for the last remaining houseguest is $500,000. On future Thursdays, someone will be evicted * voted out by fellow housemates, rather than by viewers as last summer.

The houseguests include:

* Autumn, 28, an aspiring singer from Irving, Tex.

* Bunky, 36, a technical writer from Harrisburg, N.C.

* Hardy, 31, an account executive from York, Penn.

* Justin, 26, a bartender from Bayonne, N.J.

* Kent, 46, a mortgage broker from Powell, Tenn.

* Krista, 28, a waitress from Opelousas, La.

* Mike, 30, a bar owner from Los Angeles, Calif.

* Monica, 40, a candy store manager and adult literacy teacher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

* Nicole, 31, a personal chef from Atlanta.

* Shannon, 29, a Realtor and boat captain from San Antonio, Tex.

* Sheryl, 43, an interior designer from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

* Will, 28, a physician from Miami.