Reality show season is about to burst onto your TV screens. The first big premiere is "Survivor," on Sept. 15, and from then on, the premieres will come fast and furious. This week, we answer questions about "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart," "Big Brother," "Starting Over," and "Project Greenlight."
Q: How did Martha Stewart have time to film her new "Apprentice" while on house arrest? —Ben
A: Martha is nothing if not the Queen of Getting Things Done, and no little electronic ankle bracelet was going to stop her. After she was released from prison, she was required to wear the device for five months of what is commonly called house arrest, but she didn't have to spend all of that time in her house.
She was entitled to work 48 hours a week, and filming counted. Stewart told Entertainment Weekly the task was “hideously challenging.” She said “I had to spend a tremendous amount of time on ‘The Apprentice’ and I had 48 hours a week to do it, including travel time. I could have all the meetings I wanted at my house. But I couldn’t go to the wrap party.” Although producer Mark Burnett campaigned to have Stewart’s ankle bracelet removed for taping, his request wasn’t granted. As you watch the show, expect to see Stewart wearing more pantsuits and fewer ankle-revealing skirts.
In addition to working on "The Apprentice," she put in time working on her new syndicated daytime show, simply called "Martha," which premieres Sept. 12. She's also been writing again for her magazine, Martha Stewart Living.
Martha did violate her house arrest in certain ways, however, reportedly going to yoga class and doing other things. For that, her house arrest was extended three weeks.
Her version of "The Apprentice," which premieres Sept. 21, has already run into controversy. Stewart's daughter, Alexis, and Charles Koppelman, chairman of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, fill the roles on Stewart's show that Carolyn Kepcher and George Ross do on Donald Trump's version. It was recently revealed that one of the contestants on Stewart's "Apprentice" had dated Koppelman's son. A spokesperson for the show told the New York Post that the issue is dealt with in the first episode. —G.F.C.
Q: This is my first time watching Big Brother and reading the updates on the internet. The BB people keep talking about getting to the sequester house. What are they talking about? —Lori, California
A: Now that we’re down to the last few weeks of “Big Brother,” the final cast members to be evicted will form the jury that will select the winner. Because producers don’t want the houseguests to be impacted by our opinions about the cast and their game play, the houseguests who are evicted are sequestered in an actual house.
We had our first glimpse of the sequester house on Thursday’s episode; its first and lone occupant was Jennifer, although she was soon joined by Rachel. The house is on a lake and appears to be somewhere rural, as hot air balloons were floating nearby.
Clearly, a camera crew is nearby to capture fresh evictees as they move in, but it doesn’t appear as though the house is under
24/7 surveillance. And with a large pool and spacious rooms, it seems to be a lot more comfortable than the TV set house.
Being sequestered is normal for jury-based shows, such as “Big Brother” and “Survivor.” However, unlike those voted off of “Survivor” early on, the “Big Brother” cast members who have been evicted but are not on the jury have been released back into the world. That’s because the show is airing live, and their presence in the real world won’t spoil anything. —A.D.
Q: I am curious about ‘Starting Over.’ Will it come back for another season? Right now I am watching reruns. —Cathy, Georgia
A: Yes, the syndicated reality show/pop psychology program/soap opera will The show, which shot its first season in Chicago and its second in a Los Angeles mansion, will continue the tradition of a new house for each season, moving into a sprawling, ranch-style estate in the San Fernando Valley. Life coaches Rhonda Britten and Iyanla Vanzant, as well as psychologist Stan Katz, will be back.
Don't be surprised, however, if you tune in for the first few weeks and see a different "Starting Over" than you're used to. The first three weeks of the show will focus on four couples who are having problems in their relationships -- one fights about money, one about infidelity, one about tempers, one about the culture clash between a modern woman and a traditional Pakistani man. "Having men, couples come into the STARTING OVER house is a natural extension for this special series," NBC vice-president Linda Finnell said in a network press release.
But when the three weeks are up, the show will return to its original formula of having women only live in the house and receive counseling and various goofy assignments. Personally, I don't know if I'll ever get over watching Sommer, who'd had gastric-bypass surgery, shovel pounds of fat. —G.F.C.
Q: Will the last movie made on ‘Project Greenlight’ make it to the theater? Any chance ‘Project Greenlight’ will be back on TV, or must I re-live it on TiVo? —Lisa, North Carolina
A: “Feast,” the horror film directed by John Gulager that was the subject of “Project Greenlight 3,” will indeed make it to theatres—although you’ll have to wait a while.
The scheduled release date is currently Jan. 20, 2006. The film was one of the projects the Weinsteins took with them when they left Disney; they’re reportedly enthusiastic about the film.
Still, Bravo has apparently given the thumbs down to another season, as the third season (the first to air on Bravo) was rather low-rated. Chris Moore and Matt Damon have both said that there’s a neutron-sized chance that the series could return.
Damon did offer hope, however, telling an interviewer that the show is “on a respirator.”
“Feast”’s success—or lack thereof—could end up pulling the plug or resuscitating the franchise. As for the third season, Bravo doesn’t currently have any repeats scheduled, but to see if it will return. —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.