Pop Culture

How can I audition for reality shows?

Last year, one of our most popular columns was , in which we rounded up as many applications for reality shows as we could find. We're asked all the time how to audition for this or that show.

Some shows have easy-to-find Web pages, and keep their casting info prominent year-round. Others are harder to find, or only list their casting information for that short period of time when they are actively looking for new contestants.

We're often asked how contestants on brand-new shows find out about them, and there's really no one way. Some shows run TV ads. Some are mentioned in magazines. Easiest of all, some networks have online casting pages that mention new shows as well as old. We've highlighted new shows below under a special heading for those adventurous types who want to try to be cast for a show no one has seen yet.

It seems obvious, but if you're really interested in making it on a show, you should read every word of the application information as if you're Jack Bauer and it's telling you how to defuse a bomb. If you don't follow the instructions, your application is likely to get deleted, and that means no million dollars for you. If you're really serious about pursuing a show, you'd be smart to dedicate some time to your application.

As far as tips for qualifying for specific shows, "American Idol" vets , Idol" auditioner Whitney Henry , and some .

Here's our latest roundup of shows.

"American Idol": Obviously, the show isn't looking for singers now, as it just finished airing audition episodes taped late last year. You can still , but make your calendars for late summer if you're determined to audition next season.

"American Inventor": If the e-mail we get is any indication, everyone out there has an invention. The with open calls in six cities.

"America's Next Top Model": The show is not casting now, since the eighth season (sorry, "cycle") is about to premiere, on Feb. 28.

"Amazing Race": The All-Star season has just started airing, but "Amazing Race" keeps its . The latest one says applications were due January 17, but bookmark the site for the future.

"Apprentice": The current L.A. season did its casting last summer, but if you really want to work for Trump, and check it again in a few months. The show is supposedly coming back for another season after this one.

"Bachelor": Want to be "The Bachelor," or date him? Here's . Looks like they don't have a way to apply to be "The Bachelorette." Even if they do another season of that show, they'll likely just pluck the woman from a previous "Bachelor" cast.

"Bad Girls Club": Like its Bunim-Murray comrades "Real World" and "Road Rules," this show is on an ongoing basis.

"Beauty and the Geek": The CW show is , so if you're a gorgeous but dim girl or a smart, socially inept guy, check it out. Weirdly, no deadline seems to be given.

"Big Brother": We're always asked: When is "Big Brother" coming back? And we always reply: In summer, same as always. "Big Brother" doesn't list a deadline , instead saying that information will be posted on CBS.com 10 days before time's up. But they're currently planning semifinalist and finalist interviews for May and June 2007, so we'd guess now's a great time to get your application in.

"Biggest Loser": Ready to shed those pounds? to be a "Loser."

"Cowboy U": CMT's "wanna be a cowboy" reality show is not currently casting, but future opportunities . Other CMT show casting is also listed on the same page, including shows called "I'm a Competitive Eater" and "Addicted to the Dukes of Hazzard."

"Deal or No Deal": It's a game show, not a reality show, but we're asked about this one so much that we're including a (and here are ).

"Extreme Makeover" (plastic surgery edition): As we reported earlier, this show did return last year, but was canceled after one episode. ABC says it has no plans to air any new episodes, although they did not address the , which had a Jan. 31, 2007 deadline.

"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition": on how to nominate your own family or another deserving family for a home makeover. And here's an article about a that describes the specific issues the show was looking for, at least at that time.

"Hell's Kitchen":

"Identity": Another game show, more or less, but NBC is seeking both and that is, people with unusual jobs or accomplishments, to participate on the new season of the guess-who-I-am show. Game show is also casting.

"Last Comic Standing": No funny business. throughout February and March in New York, Minneapolis, San Antonio, Tempe, and even abroad! We're often emailed by Canadians complaining that they for many American reality shows, but here's a chance for the Canucks, Aussie and Brits to break through.

MTV shows: We cover "Real World," "Road Rules," "Pimp My Ride" and "Bad Girls Club" separately in this list, but MTV has a ton of other shows looking for contestants. Their hard-to-follow .

"Nanny 911": Are you living through a parenting emergency? (Down a little further in the list, we provide information for similar show "Supernanny.")

"Nashville Star": Here's the , which directs interested singers to , which does not seem to list any current open calls.

"Pimp My Ride": The car-makeover show is one of many listed on .

"Project Runway": At press time, the show had not announced a fourth season, though we're pretty sure one is coming. The only link we have is , but we'll update it if there's news of another season.

"Real World" and "Road Rules": These two Bunim-Murray shows are always , it seems. And Michael Martin, who books the casts' off-the-show appearances, offers .

"Rock Star": When asked at the TV Critics' January press tour, CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler said she didn't know if the show would be back. The is still live, but don't get confused--those March dates are March 2006 dates. If we hear any news, we'll update.

"So You Think You Can Dance?": The popular dancing show is holding open calls in New York, Chicago, L.A. and Atlanta, starting March 1, 2007.

"Supernanny": Here's the application, stressed-out parents. See also "Nanny 911," listed above.

"Survivor": Applications were due Jan. 30, 2007, but for the future, as it seems to maintain the same URL.

"Top Chef": What's cooking? The open call dates listed online have passed, as has the Feb. 5 date for submitting applications. The site tantalizingly promises more dates to come, though, so if you think you're the next Harold or Ilan, and check it often.

"Trading Spouses": Want a new mommy? FOX's .

"What Not to Wear": The for its regular fashion disasters, plus has a few special shows in the works. They're looking for future brides, women who have class reunions coming up, and married folks who want to redo their look to please a spouse.

"Wife Swap": to try on a new family's lifestyle for 10 days.

NEW SHOWS
"Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?":
Mark Burnett and FOX will debut this new game show Feb. 27 and Feb. 28 after "American Idol." The doesn't list specific casting information, but promises a full site "coming soon."

"Character Fantasy": USA Network is casting people who want to be transformed into a favorite celebrity or fictional character.

"Character Road Trip": This show comes to you: USA Network's other new show sends its hosts around the country looking for "great characters that have unique qualities, hidden talents and unforgettable personalities."

"Couples Show": We're guessing this isn't the new ABC show's real name, but it sounds kind of like a Dr. Phil-type couples counseling show. (Note: A reader says the CBS e-mail address given keeps bouncing mail.)

"Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants": The CW is looking for mother-daughter pairs to compete in a beauty pageant together. Open casting calls are planned for numerous cities beginning March 3; .

"Easy Money": Apply for this .

"Fix My Husband": ABC is planning a sort of one-week boot camp for husbands.

MTV shows: MTV's casting page has a mix of old and new shows. They're hunting for "Hills" fans, high-school students in Brooklyn, shy girls, pop-culture junkies and more.

"Great American Dream Vote": This should be of interest to folks who clamored to be on Amy Grant's "Three Wishes" show. Contestants on come on the show and share the dream they want fulfilled, and the audience votes on who should get their chance.

"On The Lot": Wannabe filmmakers who hope to win a $1 million deal with DreamworksPictures are all abuzz about this show, but the . You can still watch some of the submissions online, though.

"Set for Life": Another new ABC game show that awards winners monthly or yearly cash payments.

Unnamed Bunim-Murray show: The company behind "Real World" and "Road Rules" has a new show planned. It sounds an awful lot like their other shows. In their words "Do you want to ditch your hometown and follow your dream of being a famous actor/actress, model dancer, host, or TV star? If you've ever wanted to make it big in Hollywood, this is your chance to become a star." Check out the (click on CASTING, then on LATEST) for details, but you must be in the 18-23 age range.

VH-1 shows: VH-1 is casting for numerous shows, with all the information linked up on . (The page also includes mentioned earlier.) One show is looking for couples planning a wedding that will cost over $300,000, the thought of which kind of makes us sick, but that's our age of excess.

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

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