Wondering about how a certain reality show pulled something off? Have a question about a certain contestant?
Whether it's "Survivor," "American Idol," "The Apprentice," "Real World" or another show, . Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, MSNBC.com's Television Editor, and Andy Dehnart, creator of ,will try to answer them.
Before you send in your question, — you may be able to get your answer right away.
Q: “Deal or No Deal”: Do the contestants just apply or do they have to audition for the show? It just seems that this show’s contestants have been picked very selectively based on personality more than any other factor. They just don’t seem like the “normal” game show contestants. —Meg, Florida
A: As reality shows have borrowed from game shows, so, now, have game shows borrowed from reality shows. A large part of the appeal of reality TV comes from the personalities of a show’s cast members, and we watch hoping these people will succeed or fail.
While game shows used to making just a passing reference to a contestant’s life, now we hear their life story, and meet their friends and relatives. That helps viewers form a connection with the contestants, even if they can’t stand the person.
“Deal or No Deal” is no exception. The show wouldn’t be as popular as it is without dynamic, interesting contestants, and the casting process for the show makes it very clear that the series isn’t just looking for warm bodies to occupy the space next to Howie.
The casting process is extensive (), and as if they were applying for “Survivor” or “The Real World,” potential contestants must either attend an open casting call, or make a videotape that includes “what you would do with $1,000,000” and reminds potential contestants to “show us your personality — tell us what makes you unique.”
Either way, producers get to meet them and know them, and you can bet they screen out people who might be boring. As further evidence, the written application’s seven pages of questions include the following, and I am not making these up:
- “What is your unique and personal motivation for wanting to be on the show?”
- “If you were going to be in People magazine, what inside info about you would be put up next to your picture?”
- “What is the weirdest thing about you?”
- “In the box on the side, please draw a self portrait:”
- “In the lines below, write a short poem or rap”
Clearly, the casting directors want to get to know the contestants, just as we’ll get to know them if they make it on stage. —A.D.
On “The Biggest Loser,” with 100-200 lb weight losses, where is all the extra sagging skin? The winners have flat stomachs and no sagging arm skin. Do they have surgery in the 5 months they are at home after leaving the ranch? If so, does that count against them? —Deb
How much time really passes before the final weigh-in on the final “Biggest Loser”? One comes back 5 months pregnant, so at least 6 months must have passed? —Joan
A: It’s possible that some of the "Biggest Loser" contestants did have some form of skin-snapping surgery eventually, but if they had it before the final weigh-in, and the show found out, they would be disqualified.
Executive producer Mark Koops tells us that “Plastic surgery is not permitted during the course of the show and is an elective procedure but most of the contestants have not required it due to the emphasis placed on physical training.”
As far as the show’s timeline, this season of “Biggest Loser” stopped taping in July, and the finale was held in December. That’s five months, and that’s how pregnant contestant Heather was when she returned for the finale. (Yet even at five months, she was only one pound heavier than when she left the ranch, according to .) Heather's baby girl is due April 15.
And if you're interested in auditioning for the next "Biggest Loser," the show is now casting, with an open call in Los Angeles on Feb. 3. Can't get to LA? Instructions on . —G.F.C.
Q: Can the girl that pooed on Flavor of Love 2 have her own show called, “Mission ImPOOsible”? —Sean, New York
A: You’re talking about the woman nicknamed Somethin’, who couldn’t make it to the bathroom after a particularly long elimination ceremony, so she just let loose on the floor.
And while your question is in jest, this is the world of reality television, and there’s a new show coming along those lines. The show is called “Charm School,” and it will be a competition between the women from both seasons of “Flavor of Love.”
They “will be trained in proper etiquette and have their social skills put to the test,” according to VH1, and “will be given the opportunity to transform from a flavor of the month to the ultimate standard in class and sophistication.”
Comedian Mo’Nique will host the series, which does not yet have a debut date. However, it may air after the conclusion of “I Love New York,” the “Flavor of Love” spin-off that started last night and which features New York searching for a man.
Maybe Somethin’ will take part, and learn how to control herself in the future. —A.D.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is MSNBC.com's Television Editor. is a writer and teacher who publishes , a daily summary of reality TV news.