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Hell's Kitchen: Acting? Dying? What's going on?

Are the "Hell's Kitchen" contestants actors? Did one get stabbed? And whatever happened to "Fear Factor"?
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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: Are any of the contestants on Hell’s Kitchen actors or are they all actual applicants who sent in their audition tapes?    —J. Kim, Texas

A: They’re actual chefs, or at least people who have some kind of cooking experience that the producers used to cast them on the show. It’s clear that many of them are cast because they’re personalities, not because they can or should win their own restaurant. Both during season one and season two, the eventual winners were stand-outs pretty much from the beginning.

Still, it’s hard to imagine why they’d apply for the show, since it’s basically about being berated and yelled at for weeks and weeks, but at least it’s fun for viewers to watch.

One of the contestants on this season, Bonnie, went to culinary school, and works as a personal chef. She that she did the series just to see if she could make it: “I forgot about HK because I didn’t watch the second season, but one girl in my class was boasting that she was trying out for it, and I got really competitive and wanted to try out. I never thought I’d make it on the show. I wanted to try it and see how well I’d do,” she said.    —A.D.

Q: Don't know if you saw the premiere of "Hell's Kitchen" or not. . . but if you have then you must have been as shocked as me when it appears that someone is either stabbed or seriously injured during the show. I can't wait for the episode just to see the drama of it, but have they gone too far?    —Joe, Orlando

A: As we saw on the show's third episode, Aaron did not die, nor did anyone else. Aaron passed out, was taken to the hospital, and was told he couldn't return to the show because of an unnamed illness. While we hope he recovers, he was one of the best parts about the show, a completely original and hysterical reality character.

Even before that episode aired, every time I saw he preview you mentioned, it seemed more and more to be the product of clever editing, not a real situation. One chef, standing in front of a stove or oven, says, "Don't die on me now!" and then the show cuts to an ambulance. I'm guessing that line refers to the flames on the stove or some kind of food, not an actual death.

Plus, the show was taped earlier this year, so if someone died or was seriously injured, we would have heard about it by now.

However, on the same episode that Aaron left, we did see one chef try to serve rancid crab meat, another serve a raw egg, and another take food from the trash. It looks like the people with the most to be concerned about are the restaurant's diners.    —A.D.

Q: Is "Fear Factor" REALLY gone?? The NBC Web site doesn't even include it as a show any more. I'm bummed!    —Rudy, Colorado

A: Andy says: "Fear Factor" has, in fact, been cancelled. It aired its last episode this past fall, concluding with "Celebrity Fear Factor."

The show ran for six seasons and aired 142 episodes, but toward the end, its ratings diminished. It was even pulled in the

If you really need some "Fear Factor," the first season is on DVD. And if you want to actually try the stunts yourself, the series spawned theme park attractions at the Universal theme parks in Orlando and L.A.   

Gael says: And even though the show is gone, I've seen creepy and ice cream treats. Enjoy a bubble-gum flavored Pig's Snout pop or a gummy pizza topped with crunchy fish eyes and worms.

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