St. Petersburg teacher lands one of 12 spots on 'Big Brother' show
By Patti Ewald, Times Correspondent
In Print: Thursday, July 2, 2009
ST. PETERSBURG — When Casey Turner wasn't teaching at James B. Sanderlin Elementary, he was DJ Mingle Mixx, cranking tunes and running bikini contests most weekends at Gators Café in Treasure Island.
Now, the fifth-grade teacher has a third role: one of 12 house mates on CBS' Big Brother show.
Turner was among thousands of applicants in a nationwide search that included a screen call in Tampa, where he stood in line for hours to be interviewed.
CBS officially announced the cast members Wednesday. Turner, at 41 the oldest member of the cast, is sequestered in Los Angeles until he and his other cast mates enter the house when the new season begins July 9.
But Turner's wife of four years, Janice, who works at the International Academy of Design and Technology in Tampa, spoke Wednesday. On Friday, a camera crew came to their Burlington Avenue home and whisked Turner away. They drove him to the airport, and although he flew commercial, he had an escort.
"I cried," Mrs. Turner said. "He started to cry, too, and I told him not to, but they said to let him because they wanted it to be as real as possible."
How did the decision to try out for the show come about?
"We are psycho fans of Big Brother," Mrs. Turner said. "We DVR it. We watch every episode every week.
"I knew they would like him. He's so dynamic and intelligent and fun. He's kind of like a Jekyll and Hyde character; he's not just a teacher, he's an entertainer."
How did she allow him to do this?
"We're a team. I even help out at the bikini contests," she said.
And what advice did she give him? "I told him, 'Don't trust the bimbos. The bimbos are only after one thing.' "
The show will air three times a week — Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays — after the season premiere. There is going to be a premiere party at Gators and then a watch party for every episode, Mrs. Turner said.
But she won't be following it beyond the premiere.
"I won't be watching it or reading the blogs," she said. "I don't want to read people's negative comments. They can be hurtful."