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Word Count: 885
Civilization might have been better served if on that fateful evening in 1997 John de Mol--the owner of Endemol had just called it a night and gone to sleep But he couldnt stop brooding about television It was close to midnight at the end of a long and fruitless brainstorming session when someone had mentioned Bioshpere 2--the American media stunt that locked four men and four women in a giant glass bubble in the desert for two years At 5 am the next morning De Mol had his inspiration I suddenly started wondering what would happen if you put a bunch of boys and girls together in a house and put them on television 24 hours a day After a year of secret work De Mol created a show called BIG BROTHER in which 24 TV cameras trained on a group of young good-looking men and women cooped up in a house for 100 days Aired in Holland in September 1999 it arrived just when the world was ready for a new kind of boob-tube content reality TV Love it or loathe it this kind of show has fundamentally changed how television operates--and made John de Mol a very rich guy The revolution is as much economic--especially in the US Along with Endemols Fear Factor shows like Joe Millionaire and American Idol both non-Endemol productions are drawing much higher ratings than a lot of standard prime-time fare giving lineups a good shakedown Reality TV doesnt cost a lot to produce No accident that frugal Dutchman De Mol saw the potential and took it much further than Survivors creators Not that this human flea circus was an easy sell--even in libertine Holland Only one Dutch TV station accepted the idea Moreover Veronica the channel that finally bit would agree to take Big Brother only if Endemol ponied up half the 6 million production cost itself in exchange for about 50 of ad revenues And so began
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