He has spent days dressed as a dog. He has been a "have-not," forced to sleep on uncomfortable bench-like beds and live off greasy junk food. He has been viewed, at times, by his fellow "Big Brother" contestants as a geeky little brother, angry young man or too smart for his own good.
Yet tonight on the 9:30 p.m. finale, Shaler's Ian Terry might be $500,000 richer.
CBS has run 14 cycles of "Big Brother," a British reality show import that is either the ultimate time-waster or window to a fascinating social experiment. Regardless, it's a strong summer ratings program that draws more than 6 million young viewers for its three-times-a-week broadcasts.
Almost three months ago, Mr. Terry, 21 and an engineering student at Tulane University, entered the Big Brother House with 11 other contestants. They were soon joined by four former "BB" players as coaches, but the coaches eventually joined the game as regular players.
The house -- actually an elaborate, garishly decorated closed set at a Hollywood studio -- is equipped with 52 cameras and 95 microphones, and the HouseGuests wear individual mics as well, all the better to catch the whispered plots and scheming as they get rid of rivals, one by one.
And so it is that Mr. Terry, an avowed superfan of the show, has reached the final. His competition is formidable: former "Big Brother" winner and Michigan teacher Dan Gheesling has been a masterful manipulator. Alabama nurse Danielle Murphree, blindsided in one of the biggest shockers in show history last week -- after promising to the contrary, Mr. Gheesling sent her boyfriend home instead of Mr. Terry -- reportedly has been in a state of agitation for days.
Mr. Terry and Mr. Gheesling will vie for the final Head of Household title on live TV tonight. The winner decides who will join him or her in the final two. A jury of seven previously evicted players, including Franklin Regional High School grad Ashley Iocco, who owns a mobile spray tan business in West Hollywood, will award the big prize.
Maria Sciullo: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG.