Another scandal has befallen "Big Brother". According to the Smoking Gun Web site (www.thesmokinggun.com), contestant Chiara Berti is currently facing drunk driving charges even though she is participating in the CBS reality show and cannot leave the "Big Brother" house.
The Smoking Gun site reports that Berti was arrested on May 26th and charged with "driving under the influence, driving with a blood alcohol content above California's .08 limit, and driving without a license." Berti spent five hours in custody and was released on $2500 bail pending her arraignment which took place last Friday morning. Berti and the other 11 "Big Brother 3" HouseGuests were officially announced on Friday, July 5th, by CBS.
Berti's attorney Sherman Ellison represented her at the hearing last week where Judge Alvin Nierenberg agreed to postpone the case -- due to Berti's unavailability -- until August 28th. Ellison lobbied the judge for a September 9th court date, which is around the time the "Big Brother" series will be concluded. Judge Nierenberg set Berti's arraignment for September 3. The arraignment was originally supposed to take place on June 20th but was put off to July 19th by Ellison's request.
Ellison told The Smoking Gun site that a lawyer representing the "Big Brother" show was concerned that the charges would "have interfered with her availability for the program." Ellison reportedly reassured the lawyer and producers of "Big Brother" that he would represent Berti in court and handle the matter.
While in the "Big Brother" house, Berti has commented to others about her situation on the live 24-hour Web feeds saying that CBS and her lawyer would be taking care of the charges while she was in the house.
The "Big Brother" reality show is no stranger to controversy. Last year, HouseGuest Justin Sebik was kicked off of the show for holding a knife to the throat of female contestant Krista Stegall during a night of reported heavy drinking in the "Big Brother 2" house, asking her if she would be upset if he killed her. Stegall is now suing CBS over the incident claiming that because of Sebik's alleged past arrests on assault charges, he should never have been selected to participate in the show.
The Smoking Gun dropped another bombshell last year publishing information on the conviction of contestant Mike "Boogie" Malin for infiltrating "a Hollywood studio and surreptitiously obtaining video and photographs of a top secret movie production". Malin was sentenced to three years probation, fined $100, and ordered to perform 400 hours of community service.
In the "Big Brother" show, contestants must remain in a house on the CBS Studio in California for three months without contact with the outside world.
The "Big Brother" house is outfitted with 38 cameras and 62 microphones, which record the lives of the 12 contestants 24 hours a day for three months. The goings-on are broadcast on TV as well as on the Internet.
Each week the contestants vote one of their own out until just two are left. The final surviving House Guests are then subjected to a final vote. During that vote, the banished House Guests return to pick the winner.
The show is broadcast on CBS each Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday night for the next three months.