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Scott's World -- UPI Arts & Entertainment
By Vernon Scott
United Press International
From the Life & Mind Desk
Published 9/30/2002 6:42 PM

CBS held a wrap party Saturday night for its hit reality series "Big Brother" with the birth of a star. All dozen participants reunited to say their farewells after an 88-day claustrophobic ordeal in a specially built CBS house loaded with cameras and microphones.

It was a cheerful, elegant alfresco blowout for some 200 well-wishers, family members, fans and CBS folk with a sumptuous buffet, open bar, music and dance floor. It honored the six men and women who vied for the $500,000 in the third summer of the "Big Brother" series, which concluded last week.

One guest found herself surrounded by fellow contestants, the media, CBS functionaries and onlookers who sought to have photographs taken with her. She was Lisa Donahue, winner of the half-million bucks voted by members of the household in the show's finale.

Lisa, 26, is a tall, lustrous brunette, slender of figure with luminous brown eyes, sparkling white teeth and a captivating, charismatic presence tempered by compelling shyness and vulnerability. Could this really be Lisa with the tattoo on her backside, wearing sloppy shorts and tops, no makeup and seeming more a spectator than a participant?

You bet. Cinderella come to life.

Lisa was done up with makeup enhancing her lovely features, dressed in a close-fitting white top, black pants and high heels. She glowed with beauty, a tad of self-consciousness and a dazzling smile that warmed the chilly night air. There isn't a movie star, saving perhaps Nicole Kidman, who radiates more glamour and beauty than this former bartender who appeared on the show for the fun of it.

Lisa won the votes of all her housemates but one, Jason, a 25-year-old contestant who made a pact with Danielle, a lovely black player, to support each other. Otherwise, Lisa carried the day, a popular decision with viewers, the network and people who believe good things happen to good people.

Among householders, from day one to the wrap party, Lisa was the most giving, generous, modest, honest and supportive, as runner-up Danielle, who won $50,000, confirmed at the party.

Lisa provided an extra fillip by falling for a fellow participant. Everyone, including household members, loves a love story.

Lisa became enamored of Eric Ouellete, a handsome Connecticut fireman who clearly returned her affection. It wasn't love at first sight, but romance bloomed quickly in the course of the first three weeks of their residence. They even shared a bed in one of the crowded bedrooms, limiting themselves to hugging and kissing.

Throughout their stay Lisa and Eric comported themselves with respect for other householders and viewers, but the electricity was there for all to see.

They were circumspect at the wrap party but the sparks were palpable. Said a CBS producer, "Their love is the real deal."

Sipping a drink, Eric nodded at Lisa and said, "I'm the real winner on this show. I came to play a game and found an extraordinary woman."

Lisa, taking time from a photo session, said, "I hadn't anticipated meeting anyone like Eric. When he was voted out of the house I was devastated. I missed him so much."

Like everything else on "Big Brother," the cameras captured their flirtation and growing affection as they focused on the myriad subtleties and confrontations among other house guests whose behavior defined their characters.

Some were funny: young blonde Amy and her various travails; school teacher Gerry (oldest of the lot) with his laid-back persona; hyper Josh, and quixotic Marcellas and his gay point of view.

Roddy, a screenwriter, was an alpha male whose calm presence convinced householders he was a formidable favorite to win the money and was voted out.

Devotees of the show came to know the contestants almost as family members, amused, startled and indignant as the game-players inter-reacted. Competition notwithstanding, there was an underlying patina of affection overall.

Among the women, Chiara proved a bit thorny, blondes Tonya and Lori were not around long enough to create clear impressions. By the third week both were gone.

Curiously, neither Lisa nor Eric were as prevalent on the battery of cameras (several in every room, including the bathroom, and in the garden) as other, more extroverted, exhibitionists.

It wasn't that they weren't playing the game; it was a matter of being essentially caught up in their own blooming relationship.

Most of the "Big Brother" cast will return to their families and careers, richer for their outrageous departure from privacy to national TV exposure of their foibles, humor and personalities.

Lisa's future is uncertain, but it will be substantially different from her past.

Viewers won't forget Lisa's gentle femininity when she quietly shed tears as housemates chose her to take home the $500,000 prize.

Lisa's virtues made her a winner and maybe someday a star.

Copyright 2002 United Press International