Big Brother 3: Monty Brinton/CBS
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August 16, 2002 at 12:00 PM EDT

Josh loses in the best reality TV parody ever!

So my pal Dalton asked me to cover for him on this column while he flew off to Vegas for a bachelor party. No problem, I said. Then he told me I’d be writing about something called ”Big Brother 3,” and that due to a preseason Jets game, it wouldn’t air on our local station until 2:07 a.m. He’d better bring me back something pretty damn good from Vegas.

I hadn’t seen ”BB3” before, and I might’ve been a little groggy while I watched it. But I perked up when it became clear that it was a devastating parody of a reality show.

The cast was impressive: Amy Brenneman starred as Chiara-Kiki, a slutty marketing rep forced to live with seven strangers. As head of household, she nominated two roomies for eviction: Josh (Rick Hoffman, that annoying guy on ”Philly”), a whiny waiter from Queens, and Roddy (Liev Schreiber of ”Kate & Leopold), who was cheekily described by the narrator as Chiara-Kiki’s ”bedmate.”

The writer of ”BB3,” whose name I didn’t catch, brilliantly used the house’s pet lizards as metaphors for the nominees. The slimy Josh identified with the reptiles trapped in a cage, just like he was. ”The big guy is a lot more chilled than the little guy,” Josh said, as the director cleverly cut to a shot of ”big guy” Roddy relaxing in a hammock. ”The little guy is right now thinking of an escape route.”

The foreshadowing was genius, as ”little guy” Josh then sought an escape route from eviction. He approached Gerry (played by director Robert Altman, making use of his trademark overlapping dialogue), Danielle (Halle Berry), Jason (Creed lead singer Scott Stapp), and Marcellas (RuPaul, out of drag) and asked them to vote against Roddy. But Marcellas tattled to Hot Rod, who — in a powerfully staged confrontation — accused Joshy of betraying him.

Before the final vote was announced, Josh delivered a hilarious send-up of an awards-show acceptance speech (”I’d like to thank CBS and the producers for giving me this incredible opportunity”). Then host Julie Chen (Lucy Liu, in a sadly unlifelike performance) informed Josh he’d been voted out unanimously. It was a bravura sequence, marred only by the director’s unfortunate choice to shoot Roddy from behind, exposing his male-pattern bald spot (were there no hairdressers employed on this production?).

But wait, there was still more suspense. Four characters who had been previously written off were given a chance to return to the set: Midwesterner Lori (Kelli Williams of ”The Practice,” channeling Frances McDormand from ”Fargo”), Southern belle Amy (Emily Procter, keeping her ”West Wing” twang), buxom Tonya (Pamela Anderson, who seems to have gotten bigger implants), and buff Eric (Mark Wahlberg, who also seems to have gotten bigger implants).

Eventually, the seven remaining ”residents” got to pick who would return. In a stunning surprise, trampy Lisa (”Leap of Faith” tramp Lisa Edelstein) voted against former love interest Eric, and Amy walked back in. (SPOILER ALERT: Amy won’t be staying long, as Procter is soon due on the set of CBS’ hot new drama ”CSI Miami”).

The episode ended with a gross-out gag worthy of the Farrelly brothers: The contestants sat in a bathtub while Chiara-Kiki poured disgusting ”mystery buckets” into the water (the first one contained 40 squid, causing Roddy to leap out like a little girl). The last one in the tub will become the next head of household. Okay, I admit it, I’m hooked. I can’t wait to see how the writers resolve this cliffhanger.

What did you think of this week’s ”BB3”?

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.
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