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Reality hosts come and go. Only a few have really achieved iconic status, including Phil Keoghan of “The Amazing Race” and Jeff Probst of “Survivor.” Probst is getting most of the attention because not only is he (Julie Berry), but his contract expires at the end of next season. Mark Burnett has hinted that he'd consider replacing Probst with a former female "Survivor" contestant, but at this point, no one knows.
We thought this was a good time to discuss our favorite and least favorite hosts.
Andy says: Imagining either "Survivor" or "Amazing Race" without Probst or Keoghan is difficult, which is the first indication that a host knows how to do their job. All too many hosts drag down their series rather than helping them stay afloat.
For starters, "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest is a massive tool, yet he matches the tone of "Idol" perfectly. He's the pretty boy ringleader of the whole dysfunctional, commercialized circus, keeping Simon Cowell in check with stupid jokes and offering vague support for each cast member. He has no loyalty, and thus the audience is able to embrace or reject the contestants as they see fit.
"Big Brother" host Julie Chen, on the other hand, is just terrible. Her delivery is robotic, and as this of her repetitive dialogue and body language illustrates, she's definitely earned the nickname "Chenbot." Fans can't help but wonder, What will she screw up next? She's so awful that she provides at least a third of the show's entertainment value.
On the other end of the host spectrum is Anderson Cooper, my all-time favorite reality show host. He hosted on ABC for two seasons — before he took off for CNN and future stardom. Unlike hosts who show up once and then disappear, Anderson even ate meals with the cast, talking and joking with them as a friend and equal. He'd walk "executed" cast members to a car, and his deadpan delivery of even absurd lines struck the right balance between parody and seriousness. Anderson knew the game and his role, and walked that line with precision that earned him the instant admiration of "Mole" fans.
Gael says: I second Andy's admiration of Probst, Keoghan and Cooper. They manage to remain likable without ever breaking down and showing favoritism.
I know many fans of "America's Next Top Model" roll their eyes at Tyra Banks, but I think she hosts that show as well as anyone could. As an African-American model, she's faced racial discrimination, and as a woman in a weight-conscious business who admittedly likes to eat, she can bluntly speak of the pain of being told to put down the Twinkie (though admittedly, on a show where full-figured models are maybe a size 10, thin remains in). Whatever the lame photo-shoot challenge of the week, Tyra can reach into her own portfolio and yank out a shot where she posed in a similarly goofy way.
But I'm not so fond of another model-turned-reality host, Heidi Klum of "Project Runway." German-born Klum isn't all that familiar with English, and it shows. I kind of like how she tells the booted designer "Auf Wiedersehn," but otherwise, the fewer words she says, the better. If it were up to me, I'd hoist the hosting duties for "Runway," which returns Dec. 7, onto the capable shoulders of Tim Gunn from New York's Parsons School of Design, who makes regular appearances and is the show's voice of sanity.
I'm indifferent about "The Biggest Loser" host Caroline Rhea. At times I forget that show even has a host. The drama of the weight loss and the barking of the two trainers overshadows Rhea's few moments in the spotlight, whether at the weigh-in or the vote-off. She's not the most polished speaker, and while supportive, she seems relatively unenthusiastic about her job. What I don't understand is how many people say she should be fired because she herself is overweight. Do they think the obese contestants would relate better to a Tyra Banks type? Must everyone who's not a size zero avoid television jobs?
Q: Do the people on the "jury" (Survivor) get to see what goes on during the weeks until the big decision is made? Do they get to watch the tapes while the show is in process? For example, did the jury know that Johnny's grandmother (Survivor)really didn't die prior to the voting? —Erin
A: Unlike "Big Brother," the "Survivor" jury doesn't watch any footage of the show.
As for what they can talk about, it's a little confusing. A CBS spokeswoman informs us that the jury is asked not to discuss anything that happened after a particular person was voted off the show. They can, CBS tells us, discuss things that they shared. It's unclear whether they're allowed to shed new light on events, for example, say "oh, remember that time we were on the island together and I told you another player said this? I lied." We'd think they could, though, since they indeed shared that event.
The reason the jury shows up to Tribal Council each week is to gather information. And depending upon the outcome of the vote, the jury can make educated guesses about alliances, betrayals, and other relevant information. But most of the jury's information comes from its membership: the people who were eliminated and knew what was going on until Jeff snuffed out their torch.
As to Jonny Fairplay's lie, since he was eliminated from the game and became a member of the jury, their knowledge of his lie didn't matter. They may have disliked him more if they found out, but he wasn't one of the final two receiving their votes. He may have told them, but otherwise they found out by watching TV along with the rest of us. —A.D. and G.F.C.
Q: So where do we sign up for ‘The Biggest Loser’? —SandraWhat is the name of the new theme song from “The Biggest Loser”? I really like it and want to work out to it, it's a great motivator.” —Edward
A: Until recently, it wasn't clear if "The Biggest Loser" would be filming any more seasons. But the show is improving in the ratings — according to Variety, over 10 million people watched last week's episode — and that means there will be a third season.
The online can be found on NBC's site. You'll need to download and fill out a form talking about your weight and your reasons for wanting to lose, as well as make a VHS audition tape. The show is also looking for relatives who want to lose weight as a team, which is no doubt for the one-off special episodes we wrote about earlier.
The show's theme song is "Proud," from British soul singer ("What have you done today, to make you feel proud?") It sounds to me like the same version that appears on the And I agree, it's very inspirational. The city of London agreed — Small's official Web site notes that "Proud" was selected as the official song for London's victorious bid for the 2012 Olympics. —G.F.C.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is MSNBC.com's Television Editor. is a writer and teacher who publishes , a daily summary of reality TV news.