Protestors disrupt Italy's 'Big Brother'


ROME -- The eighth edition of Italy's "Grande Fratello" ("Big Brother") reality program got off to an unusual start over the weekend, when three potential contestants were threatened by a group of masked far right-wing protestors demanding cheaper housing for low-income families.

The protest group -- called Fiamma Tricolore (Tri-colored Flame) -- used knives to puncture the clear plastic bubble that housed the Rome set in which the three finalists for slots on the program were living. All three fled as the giant bubble slowly deflated and the protestors distributed pamphlets outlining their housing demands.

The pamphlet said it was unfair that the "Grande Fratello" cast will live for the next several weeks in an apartment that was nicer than the average Italian could afford.

One of the three potential contestants in the bubble -- a student -- was selected to join the most eclectic "Big Brother" cast yet in Italy, joining an entire family from Sicily and a transvestite.

Mediaset said that ratings for the program were higher than expected, though the broadcaster did not provide exact figures.