'Big Brother' contestant Parker Somerville sounds off about the show and his aspirations

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Big Brother evictee Parker Somerville on mixing work with his newfound fame: "A few times, when I was filming a star, all of a sudden I hear in the background, 'Oh, my God, it's Parker!'"

In the past two months, Parker Somerville, a videographer for the website TMZ.com, transitioned from an average guy leading an ordinary life, to living in an extraordinary voyeuristic existence, and back again to the beginning. Simply put, it was a transition from reality to reality, with a two-week detour in reality television. Somerville was a former contestant on the CBS reality TV staple Big Brother, currently in its ninth installment.

Evicted on Day 14, Somerville hoped to have another chance to play the game, but came in second in the special "America's Choice" poll to bring back a former HouseGuest (the poll results were eventually not used at all and nobody was brought back). Now freed from a three-week sequester, Somerville was interviewed by Wikinews reporter Mike Halterman and he discussed his thoughts on Big Brother, how he and his fellow HouseGuests were portrayed and received, and what he plans to do now that his experience is, for the most part, over.

Somerville will return to Big Brother on finale night in five weeks. Please check your local listings for time and channel. Big Brother airs on CBS in the United States, Global in Canada, and E4 in the United Kingdom.

Starting in reality

Mike Halterman: So, you've been billed on the show as a paparazzi for TMZ.com. Tell us exactly what you do at your job. What was your most exciting work-related celebrity sighting?

Parker Somerville: It's pretty exciting, and also at times it can be pretty boring. I simply wait outside of major Hollywood hot spots, and get sound bytes and reactions from celebrities and public figures. Sometimes it can be awkward, but for the most part, it's pretty entertaining. My most funny/exciting work-related celebrity encounter was with Wesley Snipes. He had us running up and down the street for like 5-10 minutes! And he was in a full suit! How random?! It was exhausting, but funny as hell!

MH: How much exposure did you have to Big Brother before you were selected to go on the show?

PS: I was never really an avid watcher of Big Brother before I was selected to become one of the HouseGuests. I knew about the show, but just didn't make time to watch it. I can count on one hand how many times I actually watched the show, and that was just because nothing else was on TV at the moment. Before I went in the house, I did watch Seasons 3 and 6 just to kind of familiarize myself with the game. I must say, it's pretty interesting and I may watch future seasons.

MH: Who influenced you to audition?

PS: Nobody really influenced me to audition. I just saw a random ad on craigslist, and was like, "Why the hell not? Meet a few people...possibly win some cash...Ummm...okay..."

MH: In a previous interview I conducted with Canada's Next Top Model winner Andrea Muizelaar, she said that she believed reality shows cast people who are perhaps unstable, to make for better television. Do you feel that's true?

PS: I don't believe the name of the game is to find the biggest whack-job and stick a mic and camera on them for good TV. I think the producers of these shows carefully look for the best mix of people to create a story around them. They look for who's going to get along with who, who's going to feud, who's going to be the peace keeper, hook-ups, and so on.
Don't get me wrong, everyone loves to watch drama as long as it's not them, so of course they are going to look for people with personal issues but I don't think that's all they cast for. If you think about it, the people with personal issues could grow from their experience and become better people after seeing how they were portrayed. Who knows?

"The detour"

MH: You were really not that thrilled when Jen, the "soulmate" the show picked for you, was in a previous outside relationship with fellow HouseGuest Ryan. What were you thinking when Jen revealed the news to you?

PS: When I first found out about the secret, I was pretty pissed at Jen for not being honest with me from the start. However, I thought it was a pretty good idea to have that "secret alliance" with them because Jen and Ryan definitely didn't look like they were dating so nobody would have suspected it.

MH: Also, Allison, Ryan's partner, was shown on the television broadcasts as being probably more angry than you were. Who do you think was more angry about the developments, you or Allison?

PS: I think Allison was more angry with the secret than I was, just because she was forced to be in an alliance with Jen, and they didn't like each other.

MH: You were involved in some of the most dramatic moments we've seen this season, including, but not limited to, you waking up the entire house to find the person who had talked behind your back. Do you think being that direct was a good strategy for your game play? Also, viewers of the show gathered that you were unhappy with the way Jen played the game, but do you believe some of your actions cost you the game as well?

PS: I didn't really have a strategy when I went into the house. I was definitely myself for the duration of my stay. I was very relaxed with everyone, cracking jokes and enjoying everyone's company. The great thing about me is that I can be your best friend, and your worst enemy. I'm cool, but the moment you cross me, I'll do a 180 on you. I guess that's the Aries in me! When I woke up everyone in the house, I wanted to let everyone know, "Don't take my kindness for weakness." When I heard that whole "snake" comment, it really pissed me off because I did absolutely nothing to make someone judge me so quickly. So I guess my direct approach to certain situations didn't help our current situation. But I know for a fact I wouldn't have been as pissed off as I was if I had control of my own fate in the house. Yes, I wasn't right for having a crappy attitude, but I don't believe I made a major contribution to our demise.

MH: How do you feel about Jen telling other HouseGuests that her real-life boyfriend Ryan was racist to ensure that she stayed in the game? Did you think that behavior crossed a line?

PS: [laughs] I was like, damn, could you drive the stake in any harder? I felt like we had Sheila's vote, and when Jen told her that, it only hurt us. I really didn't think it was any of the HouseGuests', or America's, business to know what Ryan's racial issues were. I felt like she was not being fair to him because like it or not, he was there to play the game, just like she was. And even if he was racist, who cares?

MH: You had said after leaving the house that you felt Matt didn't keep his word to you as far as vetoing your nomination. Now that you've watched past footage, do you still believe Matt wronged you?

PS: I never said that Matt didn't keep his word. I knew he wasn't going to use the veto because he didn't want to become an early target. Well, at least that's what he told me beforehand.
In my speech, which they edited out, I asked him not to use it because the reason why we were nominated was because of trust issues. When I got out of sequester, I was talking with a few friends, and I was telling them about how Matt was cool as hell, and they said, "obviously you haven't seen the show."
What makes me salty at Matt is the fact that he wasn't straightforward with me because I saw what he said in the DR about the situation. Also, I jumped on the live feeds one day, only to see him talking crap about me with Smellsia (Chelsia, I call her "Smellsia" because Allison says her woman parts "down there" aren't too fresh!). I never once said anything bad about Matt inside the house and to see him just diss me like that really didn't sit well with me. I definitely had his back, and for him to talk crap on me, especially when I'm not there to defend myself, shows what kind of person he really is.

MH: What did you really want to say to Jen after you both got evicted so early in the game? You were very quiet when Julie Chen interviewed both of you...

PS: [laughs] You know damn well what I wanted to say to Jen! You saw my face. That was worth more than words.

Coming full circle back to reality

MH: This season, Big Brother made the press rather negatively compared to past seasons, specifically with incidents like HouseGuest Adam being fired from his job for a comment about "retards," Amanda being taunted that she should hang herself with a noose "just like her father," and James performing in multiple gay pornography videos. What are your thoughts about all of these these events? When do you think the other HouseGuests will find out about James' past in pornography, if they find out at all? How do you think Chelsia will react?

PS: I think it's crazy. It's so funny that Adam has no idea what impact his words had to America. The other HouseGuests will find out at the wrap party, I'm sure of it. I think Smellsia won't care about James' past. Being the low-class trash princess that she is, she'll definitely not use protection after finding out the great news! Good luck with that! I wouldn't expect less from her.

MH: You were kept in sequester for a few weeks, and only recently allowed to return to your normal life. How does it feel being recognized as "that guy from the Big Brother show"?

PS: I know for a fact that some people are going to come off this show thinking they are the next best thing since ice cream. I still think I'm a nobody. Yeah, the opportunity was great, and the notoriety is cool but I'm still just same ol' Parker.
It's really funny that people come up to me and want to take their picture with me. A few times, when I was filming a star, all of a sudden I hear in the background, "Oh, my God, it's Parker!" I'm really flattered by all the attention and support I'm getting from the fans. I even signed a couple of autographs... Now that was weird. Those autographs are probably in the trash by now anyway. [laughs] I think I'm gonna keep my night job!

MH: What options, do you feel, are open to you now that your stint on reality TV is over? Are you going to continue your job at TMZ, or do you hope to break into acting like previous HouseGuests have?

PS: I'm back to TMZ and back to normal life. I didn't come into this experience looking for fame. I really don't want to be a big time actor. It's not really my thing. However, I wouldn't mind doing some commercials or even a hosting gig just for the extra cash. It would be pretty sweet to have the Verizon Guy's job. I'm open for whatever comes my way.

MH: You were in the Big Brother house for all of 14 days. With that TV experience behind you, would you ever consider doing another reality TV show again?

PS: I would definitely do Big Brother again. I'm not too sure about other reality TV shows because I know I couldn't be myself on those shows. The greatest thing about Big Brother is that you don't have the camera crews and producers in your face to influence your behavior.

MH: Who would you hang out with after the show ends, and who would you rather not see again?

PS: I am more than likely going to keep in contact with the first four who were evicted [with me], and Natalie. Everyone else, I could care less about for obvious reasons. But who knows, I'm a forgiving person so we'll have to see... but for some of them, I really doubt it.

MH: There are eight contestants left from the original sixteen. Who are you rooting for to win, and why?

PS: Natalie! I think she's an awesome person. She's the only real person left. Everyone else is pretty much synthetic. I think she'll do great things with the money.

MH: And finally, do you believe the Big Brother "twist" this season (both the "soulmate" pairings and Jen and Ryan's outside relationship) "robbed" you of winning the game?

PS: Allison, Ryan, Jen, and myself had the best and worst situation in the entire house. I felt like my chances weren't all that great because I wasn't in control of my own situation. If we were singles, I know I would have lasted longer, but there's no use crying over spilled milk right? That's Big Brother for ya!


This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.