by Holly Dare
Gerry, the local Shadow Hills teacher selected to be a housemate on CBS’s BIG BROTHER 3, has been evicted and will not win the $500,000 grand prize. But he takes with him a deeper appreciation for his family and his own personal strengths as well as newfound celebrity.
THE FOOTHILL SENTINEL spoke with Gerry the morning after his eviction. Gerry said he spent the past night just clinging to his wife whom he had not seen for 60 days, even missing their 28th anniversary. “ I signed on for this thing, they did not,” Gerry said speaking of his wife and three children.
Gerry first heard about the BIG BROTHER auditions through friends in the industry. A former commercial actor, friends encouraged him to audition. He was put through a whole battery of tests and interviews. “Sometimes there were cameras, other times just talking to people. They gave me intelligence tests and there were psychological tests to be sure I wouldn’t go bananas… this from a guy who did a gorilla impression on t.v.” When he passed the auditions, he decided to do it because “It was the opportunity to do something different and I knew the kids at school would think it was cool.”
Gerry didn’t really have to worry about taking care of paying the bills and maintaining his house as his wife and kids took care of those things. He was surprised to learn that his oldest son blew up the family car on a road trip and ended up selling it for a dollar in Salinas! “I didn’t even make enough money to buy a new car doing this… but my son did the best he could without Dad there to give him advice.”
Gerry did make arrangements with the principal at Wilson Middle School in Glendale to hire a substitute in the event he would still be in the house. Gerry was planning to be in school on the first day before spending a week finishing up his promotional duties for CBS.
The hardest part of being in the house was being “really bored.” Gerry is a self-confessed news junkie and really missed having a daily newspaper to read. “That’s why I would get up early in the morning. Living with people 24 /7 and being sensory deprived…was hard.” Gerry would spend his time in the mornings when no one was up to just think. “I spent a lot of that time trying to remember monologues from plays I had been in” just to get mental exercise.
Facing the generation gap between him and his much younger housemates was also difficult. Gerry feels that this age difference led to his ultimate eviction. When asked what he would do differently if he could relive the experience, Gerry replied, “I would have been more guarded and careful. I was pretty guarded as it was… all the kids were so extroverted, it was easy for me to hold back but if I could to it over, I would hold back even more.”
Gerry says his relationships changed over the 60 days spent in the isolated environment. At first, he formed a bond with Marcellas because “we were both ostracized.” Then he felt really close to both Jason and Roddy. “Roddy is really intelligent and can hold a great conversation and Jason’s just a really wonderful kid.” Josh is the housemate Gerry liked the least. When asked why, Gerry responded, “He’s just a fool.”
Gerry feels that Jason nominated him for eviction because Gerry had previously nominated Jason for eviction. “Jason views both of us [Roddy & Gerry] as a threat. I nominated him because, early on, he was so good. Maybe he felt that, if given the chance, I would nominate him again. He’s simply playing the game straight up with no duplicity.” Gerry said in his on camera interview that he hoped Danielle would win but in retrospect he says he hopes it’s Jason. “Jason can come through this with his integrity in tact and he is just a nice kid.”
Practical jokes were a fun pastime for the housemates and Gerry says he left a little surprise for Roddy. He hid one of the chess pieces in Roddy’s gnome. Gerry felt his days were numbered in the last week inside the house by the way he was treated saying he felt like a “pariah dog.”
Gerry hopes to stay in contact with Roddy, Jason and Marcellas. “The kids [in the house} all have grand plans about reunions and such. But I know from working on plays… people just don’t stay in touch. We’ll see.”
Acknowledging that the experience has changed him, Gerry says it’s still to early to tell just how. “ I never took my family for granted but I really appreciate them even more. I always said going in that I was a rich, rich man. My life is only richer now.” He is most proud that he was the only Head of Household to use a veto to change the eviction nominees, thereby saving Marcellas.
He is also proud that he got to live the lessons he’s tried so hard to teach his 7th & 8th grade students: to be patient and not rise to a verbal attack. “I’ve always taught them to just wait and you will prevail against someone who attacks you.”
Gerry would recommend the BIG BROTHER experience and states that someone trying to live in such an environment needs “fortitude, a good self image and broad shoulders to let stuff roll off your back. It’s hard to be with people who may not like you for who you are so a strong sense of self is necessary. A person with soul and integrity can last.”
Celebrity will be an interesting thing to cope with. Gerry is a little worried about being recognized in Ralph’s or the Union 76 where he takes his cars for repair. But he hopes to use the newfound fame to speak out on behalf of teachers and the importance of education. The number one thing that Gerry feels is wrong with education in America is the sheer lack of schools. “There aren’t enough of ‘em. We need to build more. And then the school districts need to quit interfering with teachers and let them teach. They need to realize that no one program will fix everything. We also spend way too much time testing kids. This is discouraging to even the good students.”
Gerry is anxious to get back into the routine of real life away for cameras saying he “can’t wait” for the first day of school. “ I love what I do: inspiring young minds and getting kids excited about learning.”
Originally published in the defunct Foothill Sentinel.
This is a collection of stories and articles created by writer / artist Holly Dare. All materials, including photographs, on this blog are copyright protected and are the sole property of the writer or original publisher. Do not steal intellectual material!