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‘Survivor’ casts getting less real each year

Plus: Audition info for popular shows
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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: Why have "Survivor" and other reality shows gone to “casting” them? I loved watching all the audition tapes.     –Jennifer, Maryland

A: A year ago, after CBS announced that the cast of “Survivor Cook Islands” would be divided by race, host Jeff Probst revealed that most of the cast had not applied for the show. Instead, the show’s casting director and her staff found about 85 percent of the group. That seemed almost scandalous for a reality show.

However, producers did that because the show had primarily attracted applications from white people. “We really just took off all blinders and said we want to find 20 people to play this game and we’re really gonna have to source them out,” host Jeff Probst told The Slug blog.

Still, that wasn’t the first time cast members had been recruited; some of the most memorable players, like Jon “Johnny Fairplay” Dalton, who lied about his grandmother’s death during his season to gain favor, were people who did not apply for the show on their own. And the recruiting continued for last spring’s “Survivor Fiji,” which also featured a more diverse cast than “Survivor” has seen in the past.

Besides trying to diversify the cast, there’s another problem that makes recruiting a necessity. Lynne Spillman, who casts both “The Amazing Race” and “Survivor,” told RealScreen magazine in 2005 that “20,000 (applications) isn’t enough for us to choose from because at least a third who apply have already either applied to or been on every other show. With ‘Survivor’ you really want to stay on top, so why would you pick another show’s rejects, or someone who’s already had the reality TV experience?”

In other words, there simply aren’t enough people applying to continue to cast these shows, and thus they must go out and find people. It may mean the loss of those home video audition tapes, but in return, we get dynamic, interesting casts full of real people who weren’t desperate to become TV stars.    —A.D.

You're mostly asking two forms of questions these days: How can I audition for X show, and when does X show return?

For the audition questions: Even though was published in February, it contains some good solid info to where online applications live for various shows. Check it first if you have an audition question. We also answer a few questions below.

Q: How would I be able to get on 'Biggest Loser'?  —Valerie

A: Those who are able to get to LA, Milwaukee or San Jose, Calif. can attend an open casting call. Not near one of those cities? The show claims that all videotapes received by Sept. 14 will be watched. Information about sending a tape Note that NBC is looking for individuals as well as people who want to compete in a team of two -- with a family member, friend or co-worker.    —G.F.C.

Q: When are they accepting audition tapes for the next 'Survivor' season?    —Sam

A: Looks like the deadline was July 17 for the 2008 season, which begins filming in October in a still-secret location. Bookmark the — it seems to stay consistent from year to year — and check it regularly for updates if you're interested in the next season.    —G.F.C.

Q: How do we audition or apply for ‘Don't Forget the Lyrics’? I see nothing on here about this one.    —Ersa

A: There's a link to casting information on the . The open casting call dates have passed, but you .    —G.F.C.

Q: I have always wanted to be on one of the PBS/BBC “back in time” reality TV shows. you know the ones where people are re-living historical moments in time (i.e. “Colonial House,” the “Texas Ranch House”). I can never seem to find any information on any upcoming shows (I have seen all of the American and British versions). Do you guys know of any future auditions or information?     --Nicole

A: The series’ producer said before the premiere of “Regency House Party” in 2004 that money was becoming an issue, and that that season might be the last produced by Wall to Wall Productions and Channel Four in the UK. After that, PBS and WNET in New York funded an American series, “Texas Ranch House,” which aired in May of 2006 and debuted to poor reviews, as it seemed to lack of what a lot of the previous seasons had to offer. But it stands now as the last of the shows we see, at least until someone else funds a new season.    —A.D.

SHOW SCHEDULESWe thought we answered the "returning show date" questions , but they're still coming in. Here are the shows you are asking about most:

Q: Will there be another ‘America's Next Top Model’?    —Deb

A: Yes, and it's just around the corner. The premiere is Sept. 19, but you can get a sneak preview of the ninth-season models on the Note that while the show is advertising auditions for the tenth season right on the front of the Web site, the was Sept. 1 in L.A., and the (.PDF) give a Aug. 15 deadline. If you still want to send an application, .    —G.F.C.

Q: Will there be another season of 'The Apprentice'? When does 'Project Runway' start a new season?    —Aggie

A: Yes, the celebrity version of "The Apprentice" is set for a midseason debut, so look for it early in 2008. And look for "Runway" late in 2007. Bravo is saying it has no date set yet despite     —G.F.C.

Q (really, a comment): "Well I found the answer to when is the next season for 'The Amazing Race' starting, but I ... I am ANXIOUSLY waiting for the new season... it says it will air until January / February! That's too long... I'm totally addicted to the show, and it is the only reality show that I watch... I do not like the others, but this one is like its name AMAZING.    —MG

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