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Don’t plan on ‘Inventor’s’ Guardian Angel in ‘07

Folks on reality shows such as "Wife Swap" seem so extreme that it's hard to believe they're really like that . In truth, editing often just amplifies the sometimes over-the-top behavior.
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

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, . Andy Dehnart, msnbc.com's Television Editor and creator of ,will try to answer them.

Before you send in your question, — you may be able to get your answer right away.

Q: On American Inventor, the winner had a product called the Guardian Angel. Can I buy one before Christmas? — Donna W., Kongston, Tenn.

A: The Guardian Angel, Greg Chavez's winning invention from season two of ABC's "American Inventor," will not be available this holiday season.

However, a First Alert spokesperson told me that they're still working on the product, which sits atop a Christmas tree and is prepared to extinguish fires via a tank that sits under the tree. "While there is no launch date yet, First Alert is still actively working with Greg Chavez on the product Guardian Angel.

First Alert is excited about the possibility of bringing it to market," the spokesperson told me.

While First Alert had no further details, Greg told the Web site of the California Professional Firefighters earlier this year that they "[are] hoping that by Christmas of '08, we can have Guardian Angels on top of trees all over the country." In other words, perhaps by next year it will be for sale.

As to last year's winner, Janusz Liberkowski has not yet produced his Anecia Safety Capsule, a specialized children's car seat.

Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. on the "Let's Be Cops," red carpet, Selena Gomez is immortalized in wax and more.

Baby products company Evenflo worked with Janusz to develop the product, but recently, the company told Inventor Spot that while Evenflo "worked closely with Janusz to create several variations of the Anecia concept, and to conduct a series of crash test experiments at its sled test facility, ... it has been mutually agreed that Janusz will be continuing development of the Anecia Capsule car seat with an outside design firm." In other words, it has not yet been produced.

Q: Do the owners of the restaurants that appear on “Kitchen Nightmares” retain their ownership, or is some deal worked out with Gordon Ramsay/FOX? It seems like an awful lot of work goes into each restaurant makeover. — Barry N., Brooklyn, N.Y.

A: Here's the answer, in the form of a casting notice for the second season of "Kitchen Nightmares" posted on Craigslist (the shouting caps are original): "THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS FREE RESTAURANT ADVICE UNTIL NOW!" In other words, yes, the original owners retain ownership, and the makeovers and advice are free to the owners.

A lot of work may go into those makeovers, but consider what, say, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" does on a weekly basis: Its houses are free for the recipients. And really, Gordon Ramsay's team tends to redecorate the dining area, but the kitchen isn't always redone. But when it is, producers pay.

Why would FOX do that? The economics of reality TV are simple: Even with expensive makeovers or $1 million cash prizes, they're often still far cheaper to produce than a scripted series.

(Recall that each "Friends" cast member received $1 million per episode in later seasons.) So, the restaurant owner gets some new furniture, a new menu and help from Gordon Ramsay, while FOX gets a TV show — and the resulting ad revenue.

Q: How much gold did each player leave with? — Alissa, New York, N.Y.

A: I assume you're talking about "Pirate Master," the most recent reality series to give gold as a prize. (Another Mark Burnett series, AOL's "Gold Rush," also offered gold as a prize.)

The amount of money each player received each week was often discussed during the show, and those totals, discussed in interviews and elsewhere, have been compiled on Wikipedia's Pirate Master entry. It shows each cast member and the amount of money each received.

Ultimately, Ben Fagan, the winner, left with $587,624, $500,000 of which was his prize for winning at the end. Christian Okoye, the second person voted out, won just $200, the smallest amount.

is a writer and teacher who publishes , a daily summary of reality TV news.