'Big Brother 9' unexpectedly loses a houseguest, gains a replacement
By Steve Rogers, 02/14/2008
For the first time since its 2003 fourth season, a Big Brother houseguest has apparently left the competition without being evicted.
NOTE: The following contains significant Internet live feed spoilers that will not be televised until a futureBig Brother: 'Til Death Do You Part broadcast. Please stop reading immediately if you wish to wait until the show's broadcast
Although the details of his departure from the Big Brother house remain unclear, Neil Garcia, a 29-year-old gay Los Angeles real estate agent, suddenly left the competition Wednesday night.
The show's live Internet feeds showed Neil in the Big Brother house on Wednesday afternoon, however later that same day (shortly before midnight ET) a lengthy live feed blackout ended with Neil suddenly no longer in the house and Sharon Obermueller -- whom television viewers had just seen evicted during last night's CBS broadcast of the show's initial previously taped eviction -- back in the house in Neil's place.
CBS has not responded to messages, however based on the subsequent live feed comments of the other houseguests, Neil seems to have left the competition by choice and not due to a rules disqualification or producers' decision -- a decision that, if accurate, would make him the first American Big Brother contestant to ever voluntarily leave the game.
Neil apparently left the competition after being called to the Diary Room for what the houseguests believed was going to be a routine Diary Room session and didn't exchange goodbyes with any of the other houseguests before leaving the house. The lack of a goodbye deeply upset Joshuah Welch, a gay 25-year-old Dallas advertising media buyer that the show's producers had paired with Neil as part of the season's "perfect-match" twist.
It remains unclear how she was selected, but after Neil's departure, Sharon -- who according to her subsequent live feed comments, appears to have been sequestered since she and partner Jacob Healdwere evicted in last weekend's pre-taped eviction ceremony -- was selected to serve as Joshuah's new "perfect-match" partner. Although it's unclear whether they're just speculating, some of the houseguests appear to be attributing Neil's sudden departure to a family incident.
Neil's exit occurred after the week's eviction nomination ceremony had already taken place (Neil and Joshuah were not among the two pairs nominated), so assuming the show continues to follow its previously announced broadcast schedule, Neil's departure will likely air during Tuesday's Big Brother broadcast (like the show's earlier seasons, Big Brother 9's Sunday broadcasts are scheduled to end with the house's reigning Head of Household(s) announcing their initial eviction nominations).
Although she is the first houseguest to make a presumably unscheduled return to the house, Sharon is not the first previously evicted Big Brother houseguest to ever return to the house.
In 2006, one of the season's twists involved allowing Big Brother 6 viewers to vote one of the season's first four evicted houseguests back into the game (all four had been sequestered since their evictions). The viewers chose Kaysar Ridha, who had been evicted only moments before Big Brother host Julie Chen revealed the twist, however he was quickly re-evicted one week later.
In 2002, Big Brother 3 featured a twist in which the season's first four evicted houseguests competed in a challenge which narrowed the field to two potential returnees. After the challenge ended, the houseguests that were still in the house then individually cast votes for the houseguest they would prefer to see return. Amy Crews -- the season's third evictee -- won the vote and eventually made it all the way to the season's Final Four before being evicted again.
Although they didn't leave by choice, other former Big Brother houseguests have also previously left the show without being evicted.
During the show's 2003 season, Big Brother 4 houseguest Scott Weintraub was removed from the show after he refused to listen to the producers' instructions and threw a temper tantrum that caused some of the other houseguests to fear for their safety. Earlier in that same season, another would-be Big Brother 4 houseguest -- Brandon Showalter, a then 28-year-old computer engineer -- was removed from the show before the houseguests even entered the Big Brother house. After the show's cast was announced, a still-sequestered Brandon allegedly attempted to contact his girlfriend -- a violation of the show's sequester-period rules. An alternate contestant replaced Brandon when the cast entered theBig Brother house.
In 2001, Big Brother 2 houseguest Justin Sebik was kicked out of the house after a night of drinking included Justin holding a knife to the throat of fellow houseguest Krista Stegall and asking if she'd still love him "if I killed you." Although Krista -- Justin's "showmance" girlfriend -- didn't seem threatened by his action and later claimed to have no memory of the incident and protested that "[the producers] blew that completely out of proportion," Big Brother's producers decided to remove Justin after determining he had demonstrated inappropriate behavior.
By the time the season ended, Krista had found a new "showmance" partner -- eventual Big Brother 7: All-Stars winner Mike "Boogie" Malin, who proposed marriage to her live on Big Brother 2's season finale. The pair later broke up and never married. Despite her earlier comments, Krista sued CBS over the knife incident a year later.