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How many singers audition for ‘Idol’?

How many singers audition for "American Idol"? What's up with the new Food Network reality show? Who won  "The Real Gilligan's Island"?

Q: On "American Idol," how many people actually get to audition in front of Randy, Paula and Simon?      —Bob, Texas

A: Andy says: The exact number who face Simon’s caustic wit, Paula’s frightening clapping, and Randy’s one-syllable comments varies in each city. But what we do know is that the judges certainly don’t see everyone who auditions, and their job doesn’t even begin until days after the announced audition day.

For “American Idol 4,” 21,000 people showed up to audition in Washington, D.C., and 15,000 auditioned in Cleveland, where the first auditions were held. In Cleveland, executive producer Nigel Lythgoe that 750 people moved on to day two. Thus, 14,250 people were cut after the first day, during which singers audition in groups. If they make it, contestants will eventually perform individually for the two executive producers.

During the process, before they meet the judges, contestants won’t just be singing: Brothers JP and Rich Molfetta that, in New Orleans, “they had to endure two separate singing trials and a round of regular interviewing in which the producers learn everything they can about each contestants.”

Of course, not just the good survive this process; as we saw for three weeks, both the freakish (a mime, a woman dressed like a cow) and the delusional get shuffled in front of the judges. Like it or not, those performances are what yield ratings that massacre the show’s competition.   

Gael says: Also, we’ve heard that “Idol” is not above fooling with the editing when showing audition footage. At least one contestant has claimed he auditioned in front of nameless producers, only to later see his audition edited for television to make it look as if Simon, Paula and Randy were commenting to his face.

Q: What do you know about "The Next Food Network Star," a reality TV show scheduled to be on the Food Network?    —Jess

A: If every network from the Discovery Channel ("American Chopper") to A&E ("Airline") can jump on the reality-show bandwagon, we shouldn't be surprised that Food Network has a show simmering on the back burner.

Last fall, the network made it known that it was looking for cooks to compete to have a new Food Network show. Network representatives sorted through 10,000 submitted tapes and chose 8 finalists (including one two-person team), allowing .

The finalists include three personal chefs (one who doubles as a model as do most reality-show contestants); one high-school culinary teacher; two hosts of local cooking shows; two men who call themselves a "professional catering team"; and one man who's listed only as a "caretaker for developmentally disabled clients." They range in age from 24 to 52

According to Food Network, the finalists are now in New York City undergoing "a series of tests and challenges that will ultimately determine which one of them can 'take the heat' and become ‘The Next Food Network Star.' "

The series is set to begin airing in June, hosted by Marc Summers, host of the goofy-foods program "Unwrapped."  The winner's own six-episode show is scheduled to air in the fall, either on Saturday or Sunday mornings. (Newbies don't get the prime-time slots.)

The show's concept is intriguing, and Food Network has a good reputation. But with just announced, and with CBS's covering a lot of the same ground, it remains to be seen if the show is a half-baked idea or one that's well-done.    —G.F.C.

Q: The reality show "Gilligan's Island" seemed to come and go ... I was never really clear on what they were trying to do, it seemed kinda stupid and then it just seemed to disappear. Did they just stop showing it or was there a winner. What happened?    —Ava, California

A: "The Real Gilligan's Island" aired its entire but quick five episodes late last fall. Because of its high ratings, the series will be returning to TBS for a second season this summer.

The show's concept was at once intriguing and baffling. The series found lookalikes, sort of, for the original castaways, and then stranded them on an island. They had to dress like their counterparts and live in huts appointed somewhat like those on the original series, and this made for some compelling television.

But producers actually found two groups of people, and then had those two teams compete. One team member was eliminated after each major competition, ultimately turning the show into more of a "Survivor" clone than anything else (it even had a host that dressed, looked, and talked suspiciously like Jeff Probst).

Strong casting gave us some good television, though, and over five episodes, there were some dramatic moments — such as when one of the Skippers collapsed during the first challenge.

During the , real-life Millionaire Glenn eventually walked off with the $250,000 prize. As , he matched that award and donated it all to a charity he started that "help[s] disadvantaged youth reach their full potential." That makes him, as the release noted, "the first ever non-celebrity contestant on a reality show to donate the entire cash prize."    —A.D.

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