BENNINGTON -- Whether a man who grew up in Bennington will be ready for the bright lights of Hollywood remains to be seen, but Shane Meaney had better be, because the lights are always on in the nationally syndicated show "Big Brother."
Producers on the hit CBS show announced last week that Meaney, 26, will be one of the 16 houseguests on season 14, which premieres Thursday. All of the houseguests are secluded leading up to the premiere, and Shane's mother, Doreen Meaney, said the family is anxiously awaiting the reality show that keeps cameras on the contestants 24/7 as they attempt to get along living together in the same house. Contestants are eliminated every week until two are remaining.
"I'm a little nervous. I told him I expected integrity out of him," Meaney said. "I want him to win the half a million dollars. I hope he can have integrity and still win the half a million."
Shane, who moved to Bennington with his family when he was in second grade, graduated from Mount Anthony Union High School and then from Lyndon State College with a degree in exercise science. He's now working as a beer and wine salesman, and also flips houses and works as a personal trainer.
Meaney said she saw an interview her son recently gave for the show in which he said he'll have to be careful because he knows his mother will be watching. In another interview, Shane said his downfall will be the women on the show. Meaney, who unlike her son has seen and read all about the other contestants, has already identified one who may be trouble, or -- possibly -- "Mrs. Right."
"I know he has a soft place for Southern girls, and there's a girl from Alabama that sounds so sweet," she said. "Maybe I'll get a new daughter-in-law."
Although she laughed as she said it, Meaney also said the notion isn't out of the question. There have been two couples who met each other in the past two seasons that are now engaged.
Shane's casting was a shock to the Meaney family because Shane had not applied to appear on the reality show. Instead, Meaney said, her son was discovered by producers because of a 2010 article in Cosmopolitan magazine that called Shane Vermont's "most eligible bachelor."
"They actually found him. He never signed up for the show," Meaney said. "They had never had anybody from Vermont or from this area ... Apparently, they told him that they thought he was a nice guy and they called him up to see if he was interested in applying for the show."
After being called, Shane flew to Los Angeles six weeks ago and participated in interviews and underwent mental evaluations for about a week.
At the end of June, Shane was told he had been selected. Show executives then visited Bennington to interview his parents and sister on the weekend of June 30. Parts of those interviews will air on the show's premiere, which has his mother nervous about one thing she said.
"The producers wanted me to say something. I was coerced into saying something," she said laughing, before admitting she didn't have to say it if she didn't want to. "I apologize for the comment ... it's a private family joke."
In addition to the anxiety of how the clip will be edited and then watching her son on national television, Meaney said she's also been juggling emotions as she scours the Internet where people are already posting hundreds of anonymous comments about the contestants.
"Some of them are good comments, like, you know, ‘he's really cute' and this and that," Meaney said. "Then you get the other comments ... and the old feathers start ruffling."
Some of the comments have regarded her son's sexuality because of the yellow shirt and hairdo he sports in his bio picture. What people don't know, Meaney said, is the show picks the outfits for the contestants and also had his hair styled.
Of course, Shane himself won't know anything about the web buzz he has already generated before a single episode has aired until after the finale in September.
"Right now as we speak they're actually sequestered in a hotel room. They can have no contact with anyone, they don't know who the other players are. His cell phone has been taken away, his Facebook .... they can't have any outside contact," Meaney said.
Meaney said the $500,000 award for being the last contestant standing as the show wraps up would be great, but what she really hopes is that Shane enjoys the spotlight.
"My prayer is that he just gets on there and he has fun with it. I thank God he's given him the opportunity," Meaney said. "Hopefully, he'll make some new friends while he's there. And maybe I'll get a new daughter-in-law out of it."
The live season 14 premiere airs at 9 p.m. Thursday on CBS.
Contact Dawson Raspuzzi at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @DawsonRaspuzzi