Big Brother contestant 370.
(photo credit: Lahav Harkov)
Stars of the popular reality TV show Big Brother testified before the Knesset
Education, Culture and Sport Committee on Monday as a scandal brewed over the
production’s administration of psychiatric pills to participants.
contestant Sa’ar Sheinfein is suing the producers of Big Brother, claiming that
he was given medication meant for schizophrenics and told that they were
“I asked to be on Big Brother
; I wanted to have the
experience I was promised,” he explained.
“The production put a lot of
pressure and tried to convince me. I was afraid for my career, for my life. They
said I’m a sensitive guy, I can do what I want, and then they asked me to have
sex on camera.”
Sheinfein implied that the drugs were given to
contestants to lower their inhibitions, so they could be influenced to make the
show more interesting.
According to Sheinfein, the production forced him
to see psychiatrist Dr. Ilan Rabinowitz, who gave him pills that he claimed are
weak and commonly prescribed. The season-two finalist said that had he known the
medication was for schizophrenia, he would not have taken the pills, certainly
not for two months.
Tensions were high throughout the meeting, with the
show’s contestants yelling at each other and MKs.
Eliraz Sadeh, the
winner of the reality show’s second season and current Channel 24 video jockey,
shouted at Sheinfein, saying that if there weren’t psychiatrists, he would not
have anyone to talk to, and instead he would “knock his head on the
Sheinfein retorted that Sadeh also took psychiatric medication,
but will not admit to it, and Sadeh threatened to sue him for
Sadeh also got into a shouting match with MK Nissim Ze’ev (Shas),
who said that Big Brother
contestants are “prostituting themselves, and they
should be thankful that they are being medicated.”
The season-two winner
told Ze’ev that he was speaking nonsense and only wanted media attention. Ze’ev
responded by saying that Sadeh should take a pill.
Another Big Brother
participant, wedding dress designer Pnina Tornai was removed from the meeting by
Knesset security after shouting at MK Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich
Shamalov-Berkovich said she saw “nauseating” clips from the
reality TV show on YouTube, and slammed it for having no values and negatively
influencing children and teens.
“I represent the state much more than you
do, and I am much more influential than you,” Tornai snapped, before being
escorted out of the room.
According to Ran Telem, the deputy
director-general of Channel 2 grantee Keshet on which Big Brother
the program separates its entertainment and medical sides and is very sensitive
to participants’ mental state.
Telem explained that everyone on Big
undergoes a medical examination before the show is filmed, and that
psychologists regularly meet with the contestants.
chairman Alex Miller (Israel Beiteinu) concluded the meeting by saying that
today, more children want to be reality stars when they grow up than have real
jobs. He called for there to be clearer rules and limitations for such TV shows.