When Big Brother's new Houseguests cross the threshold of their summer digs tonight, they will be greeted by a beachy Venice décor, more disgusting slop than ever (it's green!)—and an ominous presence in one of the house's superfly bedrooms.
Along with a gaggle of other journalists, I recently experienced firsthand all the pleasures (few) and privations (many) of a Big Brother contestant while locked inside the house for 12 hours.
Here's what else I learned in my day in the life of a Big Brother Houseguest...
Aside from the resumption of one duo's historic rivalry from a previous Big Brother press day, our group was friendly and convivial. That is, until Pauley Perrette came along.
It's not her fault: The NCIS star and surprise host of our first challenge was her perfectly charming self, but she was the one who awarded the Head of Household key to one lucky reporter—not me—and the plotting, conniving and backstabbing began.
Even though the person voted to be evicted wouldn't really leave the house before us in our concentrated minigame, the competition was fierce. When a player elected to use the Power of Veto (won in our second "knotty" challenge) to spare Richard—a Big Brother superfan invited by CBS to join our motley media crew—my heart raced with fear that I would replace him on the chopping block. (Oh, the humiliation!)
More frightening still was the animatronic gypsy fortune teller machine (a scarier version of Zoltar in the Tom Hanks classic Big)—especially since Big Brother chose the precise moment I pressed her start button to summon me to the Diary Room. I didn't have the requisite coin—producers confiscated our purses and PDAs (!)—but I'm hoping the genuine Houseguests will be able to operate the magical machine.
I suspect the gypsy will play an important role in Big Brother 13, as she already had a hand in my very first reality-TV "edit": In the produced video package of our Big Brother 13 Press Day, ET Canada host Rick Campanelli's diary discussion of the gypsy ("she was very scary-looking, very eerie") was used as audio over video footage of me. Thanks, CBS!
After the claustrophobic headgames I experienced in just 12 hours in that house, I salute anyone who can go the distance.
Big Brother 13 premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on CBS.
Will you be watching the new season? Which veteran "dynamic duos" do you think will be returning to the game—and are you in favor of the new season? Head on down to the Diary Room comments and let us know!
PHOTOS: Meet the New Houseguests!