Jason Guy is a terribly nice guy. And a terrible judge of character.
He thought all his rivals on the reality show "Big Brother 3" were saying unkind things about him. He was wrong. Because of this, he lost $500,000.
He pined for a girl for two years and never dreamed she was interested.
He was wrong. "I almost lost her," he says.
He applied to work at WRIC-TV 8 in Richmond, assuming his lack of news experience would disqualify him.
He was wrong. He got the job and hasn't lost it.
In fact, he got a promotion. "I still can't believe that they gave me a shot," he marvels.
Jason enough. People like you, OK?
The 29-year-old Mobile, Ala., native became a reality-TV wonder not because he won, but because he was so darn nice. He read his Bible when things got tough. He remains the only contestant in all seven seasons of CBS' "Big Brother" never to have been nominated by the other competitors for eviction from the show. That's right even his fiercest rivals for half a million dollars wanted to keep him around.
So how on earth did Richmond end up with him?
Guy had always wanted to be on television. In junior high, he pulled a brief stint on the local Fox Breakfast Club, a weekend kids' show. "I thought that that was the greatest thing ever, as a teen, preteen," he says. "That on television I could entertain people, and it wasn't just left up to the people that I always watched."
In 2002, he answered a local casting call for "Big Brother" and sent in his two-minute tape. They wanted him, and he entered the house.
It was weird, he admits. True to its name, on "Big Brother" everything is captured by hidden cameras and microphones. "I mean, every breath, every word," he says. "Living in the house, it was almost, at times, like you felt like they even got your thoughts." For three months, he says, he showered in swim trunks.
The gist of the show is this: Twelve "houseguests" live together under one roof and enter various competitions to win power and privileges, with the ultimate goal of being the last in the house and taking home $500,000.
With the help of a covert alliance he formed with Danielle, another cast member, Guy lasted about 80 days. The pair pretended to play card games for hours, all the while covertly strategizing about how to win.
A devout Christian, Guy says, "There were certain things that I just felt like I couldn't do" in the game like lying to or deceiving his rivals. Luckily, Danielle did the dirty work for him. In one pivotal episode, she made competitor Marcellas feel secure enough that he bestowed his "power of veto" a safe card, essentially on someone else. Guy later evicted Marcellas from the house, a decision that left a residue of guilt.
Of course, such crises of conscience don't lend themselves well to reality TV. "Maybe you can't win the game if you play like that," Guy says. "I didn't."
The competition he lost was a simple one no bug-eating or Flavor Flav-kissing. He and the two remaining contestants were instructed to listen to statements made by evicted cast members after they had left the house and had watched all the episodes. To win, they had to correctly guess which person made the statement.
Guy assumed the people who had been kicked out thought poorly of him. Every negative comment he claimed as being about him; every positive one he said referred to the other two female cast members. He was almost 100 percent wrong. And he was out of the house.
Guy says he's happy he played his own way and kept his competitors as friends. "It felt like sort of a victory without winning the game. Now," he says, and lets out a rueful laugh, "the money would have been great, but that's not everything."
After the show wrapped, Guy stayed in Los Angeles and found more opportunities in the world of reality TV. He assisted with casting for UPN reality show "Amish in the City," in which Amish teenagers were given the chance to experience typical American culture.
Guy then worked on travel competition "The Amazing Race" for three seasons, as well as "The Biggest Loser" and "Beauty and the Geek." A fellow casting director on "Beauty" was Carissa Carney, who had first caught Guy's eye when she worked on "Big Brother 3." And yes, it took two years and lots of "third-grade flirting" before he asked her out. They're now engaged.
Despite the fun of sorting through piles of brainiacs and bimbos, Guy struggled to figure out what he wanted to do. Reality TV wasn't it. He thought broadcasting might be.
And six months ago, he started at Channel 8 as the morning traffic reporter. He was recently promoted to full-fledged reporter on the morning show, and he says he loves it: "You're telling a story every day. You're bringing people something that they need."
To catch the early-morning fires and crime stories, he gets up at 2 a.m. He's still remarkably chipper by the afternoon. And yes, people recognize him sometimes at the most inconvenient times.
He recently did a story about a Chesterfield family that had a tree crash into their house, destroying the upstairs but miraculously sparing their children.
"And so I'm interviewing, you know," Guy says, "this terrible situation that this family's going through, and they're like, 'Hey, are you that guy from Big Brother?'" S