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Celebrities cash in on reality-show appearances

Yes, stars do get paid to do reality TV. Plus: "Biggest Loser" baby on the way; details about "Survivor" immunity idol. By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper and Andy Dehnart.
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Want to nominate someone for our annual Reality TV Turkey of the Year column? You can nominate a person, a group, or an entire program, but you need to tell us why.

You can read our 2005 Turkey roundup — doesn't Martha Stewart look lovely in feathers? — and 2004's is .


Q: Do people get paid to be in reality shows? Does Gene Simmons’ family get paid to be in “Gene Simmons' Family Jewels”? Or do Danny Bonaduce and his family get paid to be in “Breaking Bonaduce”?. I know people on shows like “Laguna Beach” etc do not get paid. But do celebrities on shows that follow their families such as the ones listed above get paid?      —Lisa

A: Most definitely. Otherwise, why would they agree to do the show?

While the B-list celebrities will often get attention and new work as a result of their reality show appearances, that’s not guaranteed. Plus, the networks profit from the shows, and thus the stars should, too. Stars aren’t bashful about discussing the fact that they’re compensated. For example, she did “The Surreal Life” solely for the money.

That said, their pay isn’t huge. Stars tend to receive about $10,000 to $25,000 per episode for their appearances on reality TV, according to a recent report in the New York Post. But that does vary. For the second season of “The Osbournes,” for example, each member of the clan reportedly received $5 million, bringing MTV’s bill to $20 million. That was a huge salary increase, considering they only received about $5,000 each, per episode, for the first season. Then again, it was a huge hit for the network.

Such salary increases are common; as a show’s popularity increases, so do advertising rates, and thus so does a star’s salary. For the first season of “The Apprentice,” Donald Trump received $50,000 per episode, and double that for the second season.

For the third season of “Dancing with the Stars,” participants were offered contracts that had variable pay rates, depending upon how long they lasted, for a maximum of $245,000. That’s compared to the $125,000 or so that John O’Hurley and Kelly Monaco received for their appearances on the first season.

Q: Are Suzy and the “Biggest Loser” from the last season still engaged? If so, will there be a marriage episode a la “Bachelorette”?    —Anonymous

A: Suzy Preston and Matt Hoover are already married, and they wed much less fanfare than “Bachelorette” Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter.  Although Suzy and Matt got engaged quite publicly, when he proposed in March on the “Today” show, their Jamaican beach wedding was only attended by immediate family, .

Not only that, but the couple is already expecting an addition to the family, according to Us Magazine. says the new baby is due in April, though we have no confirmation of that. Yeah, we see you month-counting. Cut it out.

See Suzy and Matt’s amazing weight loss transformations online here: ; .    —G.F.C.

Q: On “Survivor, Exile Island,” during tribal council for the final four — would Terry have been allowed to pull the hidden immunity idol out and give it to Danielle AFTER the vote? Or would Danielle have to have had the idol in her possession in order to use it for herself. My husband says that Danielle would have had to have had the idol herself (meaning Terry would have to have given it to her BEFORE Tribal Council). I say that Terry could have pulled it out after the vote (but before the tie-breaker with Cirie) and given it to Danielle to use right then and there. Who’s right?    —Diana, Massachusetts

A: Your husband was correct. We had to wait until this season to find, out, however, that the idol must be given to someone else before Tribal Council.

On there’s also an “Exile Island” (actually, it’s more like Exile Sandbar). During the second episode, Yul was exiled, and discovered the hidden idol. When he opened the box that contained it, he read a small piece of paper with information about the idol. Among other things, it said that “The immunity idol cannot be stolen from you,” which is something we also wondered about last season.

The second-to-last rule answered your question: “You may give this immunity idol to someone else as long as you give it to them before you leave your beach for Tribal Council. You may not transfer possession of the immunity idol at Tribal Council.” Since every other known rule was the same as last season—the idol can only be used once, up until the final four—it’s safe to assume the other rules were the same, too.

If you’d like proof of this, watch the episode online at ; it’s in part four of episode two.    —A.D.

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