Friday, July 13, 2001
New York A contestant on "Big Brother" was evicted from the house this week because he held a knife to a fellow player's throat.
The contestant, a 26-year-old bartender named Justin from Bayonne, N.J., was asked to leave Wednesday after the incident and a three-hour discussion with a psychologist.
The CBS reality show, which premiered last week to mediocre ratings, gathers 12 strangers to live together for three months in a California house wired for sound and pictures. The one person who avoids getting voted out by fellow contestants wins a $500,000 prize.
Shortly after midnight, Justin was talking and kissing in the kitchen with Krista, a 28-year-old waitress from Opelousas, La.
Without warning, he grabbed a knife, held it to her neck and said, "Hang on, I'm going to slash your throat. Would you get mad if I just killed you?" according to CBS.
Krista wasn't threatened and Justin later insisted he was only joking, said Arnold Shapiro, the show's executive producer.
But since it was the third time that Justin had exhibited intimidating behavior and was warned to knock it off, he was gone, Shapiro said.
"We just determined that even though he was telling us that it was his sense of humor and he keeps telling us he's not violent, the fact that he did that is inappropriate behavior," he said. "He crossed the line."
Previously, Justin was warned about derogatory comments made toward women and after he got into an argument with another contestant about a pillow. He had made no secret that bluster and intimidation were part of his style.
"Big Brother" had 8.2 million viewers for its premiere last week, although, like most reality shows, it did well among younger viewers.
Shapiro dismissed the thought that Justin's eviction would be good for ratings.
"Whether this is good for the ratings or whether this is good for the show, I haven't given a thought to that," he said. "My mind doesn't work like that. I have a lot of compassion for the other houseguests and for Justin. ... Certainly, I'm not happy about this."