"American Idol" is television's most popular reality show by far. And it's no surprise that, although we get dozens of questions about how to audition for this or that reality show, questions about "Idol" auditions lead the list. Apparently there are a lot of wannabe Carrie Underwoods out there convinced they have the voice to be the next "Idol." Finally, we're able to answer that question.
Q: When will auditions be for the next season of "American Idol"? Everything I have read says "this summer"... well, it is currently summer. —Jennifer
A: So it is, and soon the sound of a plethora of William Hungs will be heard across the land. "American Idol" starts live auditions Aug. 18 at San Francisco's Cow Palace. The next lucky cities will be Boston, Memphis, Denver, Chicago and Austin, Texas.
Would-be auditioners would do well to read and memorize the Especially helpful is the FAQ. It warns that not everyone in line may get a chance to audition, and if time runs short, being in front of someone else might not help you. The FAQ notes that "Idol" staffers might pluck people out of line who look like they fit the part. (Sure, it's not fair, but this kind of musical choosing goes way back to "The Brady Bunch," when Greg became Johnny Bravo because he "fit the suit.")
The time auditioners can show up is determined by each individual venue. Warns Fox: "You should arrive at the auditions as early as allowed at the venue in your city, keeping in mind that some venues may prevent you from lining up before 6:00 a.m."
There are basics: You have to be a legal U.S. citizen or permanent U.S. resident, a rule many Canadian fans take issue with. You have to be born between August 16, 1976, and August 15, 1989. Singers who ranked at a certain level in past "Idol" seasons aren't eligible to return.
Again, be sure to scour the Fox site, because they have a (in .PDF format) you must fill out in advance and bring to the auditions. They also want two forms of ID, at least one of which must have a photo, and under-18 auditioners have to come with a parent or legal guardian. The FAQ offers other information, including info about how you can only bring one friend, that it's likely food will be sold to hungry line-waiters, and that people who already have music or talent contracts are pretty much out of luck. We can't possibly share here all the nitty-gritty info Fox will insist upon you knowing, so read, read, read their rules. Then go sing. And good luck. —G.F.C.
Q: My hubby & I loved "Hell's Kitchen," It was a different type of reality show, we felt. Is there going to be another one, with Gordon Ramsay? —Karen
A: Why, yes. The ratings for "Hell's Kitchen" were apparently much better than the food — the show regularly won its time slot, and far be it for Fox to stop now. Ramsay's transformation into a kinder, gentler chef by show's end won many fans over, it seems. Look for both him and his show to return, although no date has yet been announced. A Fox spokesman a new season would bring new twists, though of course those remain secret for now. —G.F.C.
Q: Whatever happened to the guy who hit Danny on "Real World" Austin? Did they use the tapes/pictures to catch the guy and press charges? —Christine
A: Yes. In part because of the video footage of the incident, the man who is allegedly responsible for punching Danny and literally breaking his face was arrested and later indicted by a grand jury. He'll face trial sometime in the future, but has been released on bond in the meantime.
Ryan Richard Getman "is facing two felony counts of aggravated assault," according to The Austin Chronicle, which notes that "MTV producers supplied police with video of the incident and told them they believed the man was named 'Brian Getman,' and supplied an address. Investigators compared pictures of Getman to the images of the incident, and Getman was arrested and released on bond."
The fight was broadcast as part of the first episode of the Austin season of "The Real World," during which cast member Danny Jamieson rushed into the middle of a street fight and fell. That's when a man punched him in the face, breaking his cheek and other bones in his face.
What did we learn from all of this? While it's probably not a good idea to get drunk and then throw yourself into the middle of a street fight, violently hitting someone in the presence of cameras is an even stupider idea. And that poor Danny is having one of the saddest seasons of any "Real World" cast member ever. In a tough-to-watch episode that aired recently, he was informed via telephone that his mother had died of a heart attack at age 45. —A.D.
Q: For some unknown reason, I find myself watching "Laguna Beach." I just don't believe that the people on the show aren't actors. They all look too perfect and the scenes seem rehearsed. What gives? —Jackie
A: "Laguna Beach" started its second season a few weeks ago, and even though the first season debuted a year ago, it's still ground-breaking reality television. That's because it's both shot and edited like a dramatic series. It looks, therefore, like a show populated by actors, but is actually a reality series, and the case members are actual high school students in Laguna Beach.
As with most reality series, hundreds of hours of footage are shot, and so only the best, most dramatic footage is used. The last week that one way producers make sure the footage looks raw is by placing cameras far away, so they're not intrusive. Additionally, as is somewhat common, producers and cast members communicate about what's going on, in part to assure that cameras will be there to capture the best moments. —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.