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JD Fortune
Stephen Chernin  /  AP file
J.D. Fortune, now the lead singer for INXS thanks to winning "Rock Star," is a proud Canadian.
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msnbc.com
updated 8/15/2006 9:50:20 AM ET 2006-08-15T13:50:20

Looking for the answer to a question we haven't answered recently? Check our archive of past questions and answers . It's organized by show title, with shows that are likely to only have one question listed at the end of the index.

The most popular questions we get? People want to know what happened to "The Mole," and we sadly have to tell them it's unlikely to return . People want to know how to audition for various reality shows, and our latest roundup of applications , only slightly out-of-date, is archived here. And people want to know how they can sell a reality-show idea to a network, to which we can only point them to Dan Abrams' personal saga of how he gave up on a similar idea.

Q: How can one from another country become eligible for these reality shows? I have seen a few shows with people competing who were from other countries and every time I try to get info on these shows and how to apply for an opportunity I find out that you must be an American to be eligible. ... If you could provide any info on how to become eligible from across the border I would greatly appreciate it.      —Jamie, Canada

A: I recently brought this topic up with some producers and critics. Non-Americans apparently can apply to "Rock Star," as J.D. Fortune, last season's winner, is from Ontario. (That made sense, as INXS, the group he now fronts, is Australian.) Canadian women have competed for the hand of "The Bachelor" upon occasion. But the door to such shows as "Survivor" and "Amazing Race" remains firmly closed to applicants from other countries.

As to why? It's complicated and no one can agree. Some say it’s due to insurance and bonding regulations not crossing citizenship lines well. Reportedly, one recent reality program was ready to air, but had to be held up when an Australian contestant had visa problems at the last minute. Numerous laws affect the awarding of prize money, the contestant's employment on the show, and other issues. It's hard to get a straight answer on why Canadians (and others) aren't universally accepted, but it seems clear that if a show wanted to deal with some extra paperwork hassle, they could do it. They just choose not to.

In short, for most producers, it's easier and cheaper for them to stick to the U.S., especially when there is such an unending pool of millions of Americans who are clamoring for such roles.

For now, the only way to be eligible appears to be to change your citizenship (rather drastic) or apply for shows specific to your nation. Canada, for example, has both "Canadian Idol" and "Canada's Next Top Model" now.  And at a press conference I attended at the TV Critics summer press tour last month, Nigel Lythgoe, who produces both "American Idol" and "So You Think You can Dance," said there are hopes that a Canadian version of "So You Think You Can Dance" will be created eventually.

And as far as Canadians being able to vote in “American Idol,” Lythgoe said “no” to that as well, adding “It’s about ‘American Idol,’ not ‘American-Canadian Idol’.”    —G.F.C.

Q: Can you tell me if NBC has taken “Project Runway” off? I'm a Time Warner subscriber that doesn't offer the Bravo channel. A couple weeks ago, NBC started running “Project Runway.” It's not been back since. What's up?     --Al

A: We thought NBC's running of "Runway" reruns was an incredibly smart decision, but shows how much we know: They stopped running them and aren't commenting on why. NBC Universal owns Bravo, and the channels have had some forms of synergy before.

NBC did send us some information on Bravo's own reruns of the show, with a spokesperson saying "Every week we air the original episode on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET and then an encore at midnight ET. We also try to schedule Saturday at 7 p.m. ET -- but that isn't every week."

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That doesn't help people who can't get Bravo, of course. We've also heard from fans of "The Contender" who are upset that the second season has moved to ESPN, which obviously isn't in as many homes as NBC, the original home of "The Contender."

Which leaves us nothing else to do but plug our own charts: We currently provide weekly updates on "The Contender" and "Project Runway," and part of the reason is that we know some fans don't have those stations.    —G.F.C.

Q: On ABC’s “Extreme Makeover Home Edition,” people have lots of knick-knacks and other things with no decorator appeal. On the “reveal,” they’re nowhere to be found. Do the homeowners get their old junk (poor paintings, old macramé, etc.) back or is it thrown away?       —Barb, Virginia

A: As much fun as Ty Pennington and the demolition crew have trashing houses before they’re made over, the family’s belongings are long gone — and safe — by the time that happens.

If the crew doesn’t use those belongings or knickknacks in the new design, the family can get them out of storage and mess up their new house with them when the camera crews leave.

Since this is “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” the job of packing the house has sometimes in the past fallen to a sponsor. During the 2004-2005 season, Allied Van Lines provided movers to pack the house and store the family’s belongings during 11 episodes. The company has pictures and stories about their work on their Web site. Mayflower sent out a press release when it similarly helped out on an episode that aired earlier this year.

For other episodes, movers and transportation companies who helped out are listed in ABC.com’s episode descriptions, which include extensive lists of participating companies.    —A.D.

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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