CBS confirms Eric Stein couldn't use 'Big Brother 8' Power of Veto
By Christopher Rocchio and Steve Rogers, 10/24/2007
This summer, Big Brother 8 houseguest Eric Stein told viewers that he had "some pretty compelling options" available to him when he paved the way for Dick Donato's eventual win by "deciding" not to use the veto ability he won in the show's eighth Power of Veto challenge to allow Jessica Hughbanks, the Stein ally who was serving as the game's Head of Household at the time, to "backdoor" Donato or his daughter Danielle out of the competition.
However a month after Big Brother 8's finale, CBS has now confirmed that Stein, who served as the show's secret "America's Player" twist, didn't really have any options at all.
Instead, although the broadcast's edited footage implied otherwise, Big Brother 8's producers prevented Stein -- who as "America's Player," secretly had his weekly eviction vote and nomination attempt targets determined by home viewer voting -- from using the PoV because there was "no time [for viewers] to vote on whether or not he should use the veto," according to a CBS-released statement.
Stein's pivotal "decision" took place in the days leading up to Big Brother 8's live August 30 broadcast that featured the eviction of Amber Siyavus, whom Hughbanks had nominated for eviction (along with Zach Swerdzewski) during the week's initial nomination ceremony. However once Stein -- her close ally in the competition -- won the PoV, Hughbanks saw it as an opportunity to "backdoor" one of the Donatos.
When Stein "decided" against using the PoV and instead kept Hughbanks' eviction nominations the same, he told Hughbanks it was because he trusted the alliance the pair had recently formed with the Donatos, whom unbeknownst to Stein or Hughbanks, had already begun to plot against them -- but he had another explanation for the show's home viewers.
"America, I know you guys wanted Amber nominated for the second straight week so I did not use the Veto... now you have the choice to send her home if you'd like," Stein told viewers during a Diary Room session broadcast on Big Brother 8's August 28 episode.
Stein's explanation did not address why he didn't use the Veto to remove Swerdzewski from the chopping block.
After Stein's PoV "decision" was revealed to the rest of the remaining houseguests, Hughbanks commented there was "no reason" to evict Siyavus or Swerdzewski and characterized Stein's "decision" to keep the Donatos in the competition as possibly the "biggest mistake" yet in the game. Her fears quickly came to fruition when the Donatos immediately turned on Hughbanks and Stein and then powered past Jameka Cameron and Swerdzewski to finish as the show's winner and runner-up.
However during a recent podcast interview with rffradio.com, Hughbanks said that once Big Brother 8 ended and Stein was allowed to reveal the season's "America's Player" twist to the rest of the houseguests, he told her the real reason why he didn't use the PoV.
"Eric explained he wasn't allowed to use the veto that week. The producers said that America wasn't given enough time to decide who he should use it on if he was going to, so they just flat out told him he is not allowed to use the veto at all -- nominations had to stay the same -- which is why Eric didn't use the veto," said Hughbanks during the interview. "I think that's because [the producers] knew if he used the veto I was going to put up one of the Donatos, Dick or Danielle, and so they just said, 'You know you can't do it.'"
Big Brother's producers confirmed Hughbanks' claim that they didn't allow Stein the option to use the PoV in a CBS statement issued to Reality TV World on Tuesday.
"The rule was that Eric had to make every effort to do what America wanted. [Viewers] asked for someone to be nominated and that person was on the chopping block. Since there was no time to vote on whether or not [Stein] should use the veto, he needed to make sure that the person America wanted gone stayed on the chopping block and then make every effort to make sure that person was evicted. Keeping the nominations the same was the best way to accomplish America's wishes."
Home viewers had instructed Stein to both target and vote to evict Siyavus during the week of his PoV victory, which is exactly what happened. But at the time, Hughbanks said she was unaware what was motivating Stein to keep the Donatos in the game.
"I didn't know it at the time. I said, 'What? What is going through your head? This is the perfect opportunity to get one of the big dogs out of here,' and he wouldn't do it but I went along with him because I had to. He had the power that week. He was my ally," Hughbanks explained during her interview. "He couldn't tell me in the house he wasn't allowed to use it, but afterwards he said, '[The producers] said do not use it, you don't have a choice, you are to keep nominations the same.'"
Hughbanks said she "didn't pressure" Stein to flex his PoV muscles.
"But I talked to him about it," she explained. "I put up [Siyavus and Swerdzewski] that were just kinda like, 'Ehh,' so we have the opportunity to get somebody out that is huge in the game and I wanted to but because he was told that he couldn't he had to keep arguing to me, 'No, no, no. We have the right people up. Trust in the alliance it's all going to be good,' and I had to go along with it because I didn't have a choice."
CBS did not immediately respond to Reality TV World's attempts to get further clarification on the producers' statement, including why Big Brother host Julie Chen never informed viewers of an "America's Player" rule restriction that would have prevented Stein from exercising any PoV's he may have won and why the show's broadcasts were edited to imply Stein was making his own PoV usage decision.