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Tampa bartender misses out on $10,000 in debut of Big Brother 12

Annie The first surprise for Tampa Bay area fans watching Thursday's debut of CBS' Big Brother came early, when 27-year-old bartender Annie Whittington, identified throughout the show as hailing from Tampa, told her housemates she was from Chicago -- sparing not a word for the Florida city she was supposedly calling her hometown.

It was just one in a long litany of head-scratching moments that surfaced in the hourlong debut of CBS' summertime unscripted competition, in which 13 "houseguests" are cooped up in a makeshift house packed with cameras for months, vying for a $500,000 prize.

Contestants learned they were also stuck with a hidden saboteur, who would be secretly working to subvert their plans. If the unknown mole survives five weeks without detection, he or she will win $50,000.

We also learned a bit about Whittington, who told the camera she was bisexual -- a fact she didn't share with her housemates. "I know what men and women want," she gushed during one of the show's many "confessional" moments, where contestants speak to the camera alone. Her thick Chicago accent was obvious; sparking more confusion over where she actually comes from.

Big-brother-saboteur And she wasn't the only contestant who left out important details when telling personal stories to fellow houseguests. Miami podiatrist Andrew Gordon didn't reveal he was a doctor, fearing others would assume he didn't need the $500,000 prize.

Gordon, an orthodox Jew who vowed not to participate in the show during the Sabbath, saw the lie about his job keep him from helping another houseguest when she hurt her leg during a competition. Seems odd for a devoutly religious guy to resort to lying and avoid helping others on his first minutes in the house, whether or not he sits out the Sabbath.

Which is the most irritating part of the Big Brother experience. More than many other so-called "reality" shows, Big Brother gathers a crew of attention-hungry misfits to bounce off each other in overheated confrontations for months. Last night, we met the requisite overdramatic gay guy, the boneheaded Italian Rachel dude, the airheaded sex queen with fake boobs who wondered if Gordon wore a "Yom Kippur", and worse.

Fan blogs already are buzzing that the sex queen, Rachel Reilly (left), was nominated for eviction along with hunky swim coach Brendon Villegas.

Whittington seemed to fit right in, jumping into a challenge where she nearly won $10,000 by riding a punching bag on a pulley shaped like a hot dog across a room (yes, it looked as freaky as it sounds). The bizzarro competition mostly gave competitors a chance to sling around awful double entendres ("I lost my dignity on a slippery weiner," said injured houseguest Britney Hayes).

Given that the Tampa connection requires me to actually watch this show closely, it's going to be a looong summer.

[Last modified: Thursday, August 12, 2010 2:15pm]


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