A former contestant on the Israeli version of “Big Brother” claims he was given psychiatric drugs during the program, Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Wednesday.
Sa’ar Scheinfein, who reached the final episode of the second season of the reality TV show in 2010, intends to sue Cooperman Productions and the show’s physician, Dr. Ilan Rabinovitch, for NIS 2.5 million. According to Scheinfein, Rabinovitch gave contestants pills that affected their behavior during the time they were locked in the Big Brother house, Yedioth said.
The show puts 16 contestants into a studio-“house” at the beginning of each season, keeping them isolated from the outside world and under video surveillance 24 hours a day for two months. Viewers vote to eliminate contestants as the season wears on, and the winner — the most popular — takes home a million shekels.
“People sent millions of shekels worth of text messages [to vote] for contestants who were engineered,” Scheinfein said. “If it was up to me you wouldn’t have seen what was shown. You saw a drugged man, confused, and imprisoned. You saw a person who sold his soul to the devil and was wracked with depression.”
According to Yedioth, five other former contestants also claimed they were either given pills to take by Rabinovitch before they had even entered the house, or on other occasions were instructed on how to interact with other contestants.
Keshet, the company that franchises the Big Brother show, and Rabinovitch called the charges claims “unfounded,” explaining that contestants on the show received medical care that includes psychiatric help when necessary, according to Yedioth.
Rabinovitch said the claims were made for financial gain.