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‘On the Lot’ is on the edge of cancellation

What's up with "On the Lot"? Is Jordin the only "American Idol" not from the South? Whatever happened to Rocco's "Restaurant"?
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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,'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: What's going on with "On the Lot"? My husband and I enjoyed the first couple episodes. Then they dropped a night, switched to the world's most annoying host, started showing the application films that the directors made at home and stopped showing any new films or the creative process behind making them. I thought this had the potential to be a great summer show, but now I've lost all interest. Any insight into what happened?    —Sarah, St. Louis

A: I'm with you, Sarah: I loved the first few episodes of the show, and was convinced FOX had a new summer hit. The series, which is produced by Mark Burnett and Steven Spielberg, began as a competition between talented filmmakers, a la "Project Runway," and borrowed heavily from "The Apprentice"'s look and feel.

However, a relatively low number of people agreed with us. In fact, the show's first episode lost most of its "American Idol" lead-in. Then again, I'm not surprised, since the two shows would seem to have different core audiences.

That fact didn't stop FOX and producers from quickly transitioning the show to its weekly elimination format, which rips off "American Idol" so much that the annoying new host's lines are often the same ones Ryan Seacrest says. My guess is that the low ratings scared the network and producers, so they transitioned to a more familiar format, and in the process killed any life the series had.

I'd be surprised if the show doesn't get cancelled soon. From week to week recently, the show lost 500,000 viewers, bringing it down to 2.4 million viewers. That's at the level where cable shows get two or three times that number of viewers on a normal night. Plus, as you note, these past few weeks, the filmmakers have been presenting the films they created to audition for the show — not new content. In other words, they're basically spending as little money as possible on each new episode. I wish they'd turn it back around 180 degrees again and return to the "Project Runway"-style format, but that probably won't happen.    —A.D.

Q: I was wondering, is Jordin Sparks the first non-South winner on "American Idol"? —A. Dawn, Mississippi

A: Yes she is! , 17, the daughter of former NFL player Phillippi Sparks, was born and raised in Arizona, although she did live briefly in New Jersey. All of the other "American Idol" winners have been Southerners.

First season: Winner Kelly Clarkson is from TexasSecond season: Winner Ruben Studdard is from AlabamaThird season: Winner Fantasia Barrino is from North CarolinaFourth season: Winner Carrie Underwood is from OklahomaFifth season: Winner Taylor Hicks, like Studdard and season-four runner-up Bo Bice, is from Alabama.    —G.F.C.

Q: Is that show "The Restaurant" with Rocco Dispirito ever going to come back on? If not, what has become of the actual restaurant?    —Shelly

A: The show was cancelled after airing two seasons in 2003 and 2004 on NBC. The second season was pulled mid-season, and the rest of the episodes were burned off in the summer before the full season was rebroadcast on Bravo.

Between the first and second seasons, Rocco was sued by his business partners because of the restaurant's poor performance, and the restaurant itself, Rocco's, closed in the fall of 2004.

The space that housed Rocco's reopened as Brasserio Caviar & Banana, a Brazilian restaurant, which later closed. Jeffrey Chodorow — Rocco's business partner, who clashed with Rocco on and off-camera — has reopening the restaurant yet again as Borough Food & Drink, which features "artisanal ingredients from around the region," according to the New York Times.    —A.D.

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