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SURVIVOR RUINS
Mayan ruins contributed to the atmosphere of this season's "Survivor," set in Guatemala.
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msnbc.com
updated 12/14/2005 3:50:23 PM ET 2005-12-14T20:50:23

"Survivor" actually had a somewhat satisfying finale Sunday night. Danni, Steph and Rafe were all decent at challenges and had played the game in various ways to get them to the final three.

Our gripe: Why doesn't "Survivor" read all the votes at the live finale? Sure, we believe that Danni won everyone's vote except for Rafe's — it's likely that if even one other person had voted for Steph, Jeff Probst would have read that vote and increased the suspense value. But we like to know for sure. The official CBS "Survivor" site has a voting history page, but at press time, they had yet to update for the final vote.

Also wrapping up this week: "Amazing Race Family Edition" on Tuesday, "The Apprentice" on Thursday; "Miss Seventeen" next Monday.

Q: Why won’t “Survivor” film in Alaska or the North Pole, or even Greenland? Why can’t they ice fish or build igloos?    —Jeanette

A: Andy says: Because the cast can’t get half-naked. Seriously, what makes for better TV (or, most accurately, better ratings): People with frostbite and hypothermia huddling around a fire, or dimwits stripping off their clothes and splashing along a beach? In addition, the crew, which numbers hundreds of people, has to live and work in the same place. And trudging through snow or tundra just to film a conversation about strategizing would presumably make their jobs a lot more difficult.

All that said, executive producer Mark Burnett has said that he’d consider Canadian locations, specifically the mountains of British Columbia. That’s yet to happen, though. As we learned at the conclusion of last night’s “Survivor Guatemala” reunion, and as I reported in November, “Survivor” is again returning to Panama—to the exact same islands where “All-Stars” was filmed. This new season will be subtitled “Exile Island,” since one castaway will be exiled to a tiny island and have to live apart from the tribe every few days.

Where else could “Survivor” go? I’d love to see “Survivor” migrate away from the equator and head other places in Asia, where the show could probably film another 12 seasons in breathtaking locations without having to return to Panama again.  Eastern or Central Europe also has some locations that would be both photogenic and rough enough to provide some decent location-related drama. Other possibilities include New Zealand, which we know from “Lord of the Rings” is breathtaking and has a number of diverse locations. Plus, the castaways could live in hobbit holes. And Hawaii would be an interesting location, if only because the contestants could share beach space with the cast of the “Survivor”-inspired dramatic series “Lost.”

Gael says: As someone who was born and bred in Minnesota, I got kind of excited about a recent rumor that "Survivor" was going to film in Canada during the winter. Let 'em eat cold! But again, because of my Minnesotaness, I realized that the producers probably wouldn't dare. Being too cold is different than being too hot. If it's 114, you're uncomfortable, and you might get sunburned or sunstroke, but you can stay in the shade, and "Survivor" does provide sunscreen. If it's -30, not only do you have to stay bundled and moving, but you could lose some extremities to frostbite. I can't see the insurers of "Survivor" taking that risk. Even when "The Amazing Race" sent teams up north in winter, they did so briefly, for only one challenge. Although as one reader points out, a cold-weather locale such as Alaska or Canada could also present some rugged challenges even if they shot there during the summer.

As far as warmer locales, I like Andy's idea of New Zealand, because I thought the Australian Outback season was fascinating. I also like the idea of a return to Africa, and that gorgeous continent has plenty of other locations the Survivors could explore. Another suggestion from me: Okinawa. The island off the coast of Japan was the site of an important battle in World War II (a battle my Marine father was in), and perhaps the show could work some of the wartime history into the challenges, as they did only slightly in Palau.

Q: I just watched the “America’s Next Top Model” finale and got to thinking...why aren’t the previous winners top models? Other than in the ads for Cover Girl which they were promised, I can’t recall seeing any of those girls anywhere else. Why?    —Kristen

A: The New York Times summed it up nicely in a November article, saying "there are a few good, simple reasons why the competitors on "America's Next Top Model" will not become America's next top model."

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The article goes on to note that, for one thing, they're too old (most top models are recruited out of middle school,  Laetitia Costa was 15 when she was famously spotted on a Corsican beach). Although they seem quite thin to us normal folk, they're "too plump to succeed in a business where eating disorders are no hindrance to success," says the Times. And the irony: The article goes on to say they can't be America's Next Top Model because being American is not hot now in the modeling world: The hot look is tiny girl-children from the former Soviet Union, not the cornfed American blonde look.

That's what the Times says, but if you want my opinion, there's more to it. Most of the Top Model winners are pretty girls, but they have neither the hunger nor the dedication to make it in a tough business. Think back to the show's challenges, where judges were hard-pressed to find a model who could name a fashion photographer or pronounce "Yves St. Laurent." Do those sound like women who have been immersing themselves in the modeling world while dreaming of a career there, or just pretty girls who saw a contest and took a shot?   —G.F.C.

Q: Didn't Tom the fireman in last season's Survivor win the car and the $1,000,000?    —Patricia

A: No, if you'll recall, in Palau, it was lanky dolphin trainer Ian who won the car (a red Corvette convertible, no clunky SUV for him). You may be confused because Ian then took Tom with him on the reward, so there was at least one photo circulated of the two of them sitting in the car ( see that photo here ). Following the "Survivor" curse of the car , Ian did not win the million — though really, he gave it up. When he and Tom were the only two remaining in the final immunity challenge, Ian offered to give that win to Tom if Tom would agree to take whiny Katie, not Ian, to final two. Tom agreed (who wouldn't?) and won handily. But Ian still got the 'Vette.    —G.F.C.

Q: What’s up with Kathy Griffin’s Show on Bravo? I loved it and can’t wait to see more! When is she coming back or did it stop because she’s getting a divorce?    —Shawna

A: For fans of Kathy Griffin (and her husband Matt) there’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that, although she filed for divorce from Matt, they’re back together now. In a year full of reality celebrity divorces and separations (Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey! Laguna Beach’s Jessica and Jason!  Kimberly Stewart and Talan! Nicole Richie and Adam Whatshisface!), it was perhaps the most devastating split, because Kathy and Matt seemed like such a perfect fit.

We know that because of Kathy’s Bravo reality show, "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List," that aired late last summer.  While the show was well-watched, it is not scheduled to return any time soon.

Bravo actually wants to renew the series, but Kathy has yet to say yes. In part, that’s because, as she told the Windy City Times, filming “was a nightmare” and went months longer than it was supposed to. But mostly, Bravo “[hasn’t] come up with the cash — and you know me with the cash,” she said.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is MSNBC.com's Television Editor. Andy Dehnart is a writer and teacher who publishes reality blurred, a daily summary of reality TV news.

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