Big Brother 4’s Brandon Apparently Gone!by Brian James -- 07/07/2003
It would appear that the first eviction on Big Brother 4 has happened before the show even began. All traces of Brandon Showalter, the 28-year-old computer engineer from Newport Beach, California, have been yanked from the official CBS.com website with no accompanying explanation. While details as of this writing (midnight on Monday, July 7) are still frustratingly sketchy and vague, what follows is all that is known at this time.
Sometime on Saturday, July 5, CBS removed Brandon’s picture and bio from the official Big Brother 4 website. Later, someone showed up in the chat room of bb4bbq.com claiming to be Brandon. Spamgirl, the moderator, asked the chatter some qualifying questions about his identity that appeared to check out. This person said, “It’s over. Arnold pulled the trigger two hours ago. I left the hotel to go home instead of the set. The reason I was canned started from an attempted phone call to my girlfriend. I failed. It snowballed and they kept me there all week only to tell me at the same time I was expecting to go to the house.” With that, he left the chat.
So, if this person was Brandon and if what he said was true, apparently he was kicked off the show for breaking the no outside communication agreement once the contestant sequestering for the show had begun. Seems relatively simple enough and plausible: producers of reality shows such as this take potential information leaks very seriously. For example, I have a friend who works for a reality TV production company and he was required to sign a multimillion dollar confidentiality agreement - quite an effective deterrent from not blabbing any details! But things start to get murkier from here.
Brandon has a website, surfingbarrels.com. According to a whois search, this domain name has been registered to a Brandon Showalter of Newport Beach, California since June of 2001. (This was reported on another site but I personally ran the search to verify it.) Suddenly, this site apparently became a kaleidoscope of changing messages. The order in which the messages allegedly appeared was a little hard to follow, but from what I can gather, this is how things started off:
"First off bb4bbq.com, that was not me in your chat room but someone posing as me. I'm not sure what information this person provided to you, but it must have been something that leaked or was public knowledge. Until I have a chance to properly provide you with an interview I would appreciate your respect and remove the interview. That's a scary thought that someone has all the information about me already. Yes I was pulled from the Reality show BigBrother4, sorry but your going to have to wait until I get the OK from Arnold to speak my mind. I will be happy to hook anyone up with any answers once I'm sure that I'm in the clear."
Spamgirl alleges that she was able to prove through phone calls that it was indeed Brandon in the chatroom, and also that at some point right after the chat his website read, “Is this Brandon? You tell me spamgirl?”
It’s unclear exactly as to when, but according to spamgirl the following appeared on his website as well at some point:
“I can summarize. Basically I was not going to sacrifice my integrity by slutting around on the show. Although the “sound bite” on promo's has me stating that I'm going to flirt to manipulate other HG's, the producers were quick to notice my loyalty to my lady. I think the mold they were looking for looked like me, but had no morals. During the preliminary interviews with producers, I told them that me and my girl were parting ways. Things did not go that way and they found out. Throughout the week in sequestering they came to realize how committed I was. I think they wanted to stir the pot sexually, now I'm sure of it by seeing how they angled my interview comments. I'm not the playboy they had anticipated. Looking at the bright side of things. I still have my summer ahead of me, my 10 year HS reunion in 3 weeks, and I still have my integrity.”
If this is true, now it would appear that the producers were up in arms because they thought they’d cast a handsome manipulative flirt - indeed, the only place he still exists on the CBS official site is on the “Special HouseGuest Video” saying, “If I have to flirt and persuade people by being sexual to some degree, then that’s what you have to do and that’s what I’m gonna do” - and instead got a faithful boyfriend who was willing to risk everything just to speak to his girl even when forbidden. This would certainly be admirable in everyday life, but in casting a reality TV show where, for this particular season, everyone must be single, this could pose a problem. (It should be noted, however, that fellow contestant Alison mentions her boyfriend in the current tense several times in her Q&A on the official CBS website.) This would certainly explain the “it snowballed” part of the original chatroom message. The above video quote, which would seem to be the “sound bite” mentioned, could also explain his allegations that they slanted his interview comments - for example, he could have immediately followed that quote with “But I’d rather not” or some other qualifying statement. Also, I had mentioned in my preview article that reading between the lines of some of his Q&A and favorites responses, I could see him having some strong Christian beliefs; if I was right, that could have played a factor in his reluctance to play around while in a relationship as well.
From there, Brandon’s website was apparently changed to read the following:
“Yes I was pulled from the Reality show BigBrother4 but hands are tied at the moment. I can't say much, besides the fact I'm pulled. I really want to clear the air, since the rumors circulating are ridiculous. I’m going surfing now to get away from this damn computer. lol”
(It should be noted that, as I commented in my preview article, Brandon’s Q&A and favorites indicated a strong interest in surfing.)
From here, spamgirl claims to have talked on the phone with Brandon Sunday afternoon, saying that he told her that he had talked with Big Brother 4 executive producer Arnold Shapiro earlier that day and that Shapiro was going to have his lawyers clear up for Brandon exactly what he was allowed to say; furthermore, according to her, he is also working on writing a document that will explain everything and will distribute it to certain websites that haven’t “dissed” him on Wednesday.
The problem with nearly everything above, though, is that it’s dependent on the word of one person: spamgirl. While I have no reason to disbelieve her, I also have no reason to believe her, either. So let’s review the indisputable facts as we know them at this point:
And finally, one last indisputable fact: when you visit surfingbarrels.com now, all you see is the following message: lunar.powweb.com 126.96.36.199. Whatever messages, if any, from Brandon that were once there have been removed.
So, how will this affect the show? Will Brandon be replaced with an alternate, or will they continue forward with 12 HouseGuests much as they did when Justin was kicked out of the house the second season? Come to think of it, was Brandon one of the HouseGuests slated to have an ex appear on the show? Does this mean they could now be down to only 11? What will be the official explanation for Brandon’s departure, if any? For now, we’ll all just have to wait and see.
Brian James is an actor/writer/singer in New York City and the Assistant Editor of RealityNewsOnline. An avid reality show, Passions, early Ryan’s Hope, retro music, and Internet discussion board junkie, he can be found holding up "Will Snark For Food" signs in subway stations as he continues to search for that elusive "day job." Brian would like to stress that his writings are based solely on what he sees in each episode of each show, and realizes that there may sometimes be more to the story and that people may behave quite differently under normal circumstances. Comments and cybertomatoes accepted at BrianJamesRNO@earthlink.net.
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