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''Big Brother'' contestant is booted before premiere. Sequestered housemate already broke the rules by phoning his girlfriend

Big Brother | DIAL O FOR OUSTER Showalter's fingers did the walking
Image credit: Brandon Showalter: Tony Esparza
DIAL O FOR OUSTER Showalter's fingers did the walking

They don't call the show ''Big Brother'' for nothing. A few days before Tuesday night's season premiere, producers booted contestant Brandon Showalter for breaking the show's rules and secretly phoning his girlfriend, CBS confirmed to the New York Post. The network had to scramble for a replacement housemate, who will be named during the premiere on Tuesday.

Insiders described Showalter, a 28-year-old computer engineer from Newport Beach, Calif., as ''a good kid'' who made a mistake during the contestants' pre-game stay in a Los Angeles-area hotel that precedes their summer-long isolation from the outside world in the Big Brother house. ''They're sequestered for several days prior to going into the house and it gives producers another chance to determine if they're prepared,'' a CBS spokeswoman told The Post. ''He struggled with it and got a little stir crazy.'' Producers deemed him ''not ready for the 'Big Brother' experience'' if he couldn't even make it through the first week.

Showalter's replacement will be another ex-flame of one of the eight remaining primary housemates. This year's twist, which the show helpfully calls ''the ex factor,'' was to have four of the housemates discover that they'd be stuck in the house all summer with romantic partners from their past. Now, there'll be five former couples in the house. Of course, when Showalter's girlfriend learned he botched his chance to win $500,000, she may have become an ex-girlfriend as well.

Originally posted Jul 08, 2003