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, . Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, MSNBC.com's Television Editor, and Andy Dehnart, creator of the ,will try to answer them.
Q: What happens when "the tribe has spoken" and someone is voted off on "Survivor"? Are they immediately shipped off the island and home, or do the producers stash them somewhere in order to keep the winner more of a secret? —Cathy
A: Cast members generally tell only their family members or close friends that they've been picked for the show, although word tends to leak out about who is on the cast even before CBS' announcement. Thus, if a cast member was to return a few days after leaving, still fat and pale, it'd be pretty easy to determine that they were the loser who had the distinction of being voted off the island first. Likewise, someone who was missing for six weeks probably did pretty well.
To keep the results of the show as secret as possible, Survivor keeps all of its contestants away from their homes for the entire 39-day shoot. After their torch is snuffed and they do their post-exit interview, they head to a place that is affectionately known as "Loser Island," although it's not necessarily an island. (Jury members are presumably kept together in a separate undisclosed location.)
Often, non-jury members head out on a vacation. During the production of "Survivor All-Stars," a group of people — Rudy Boesch, Rob Cesternino, Richard Hatch, and Tina Wesson — were spotted in Argentina, as reported.
And it was a good vacation for some of them: During the "All-Stars" reunion, Rich Hatch told us that he met his current boyfriend at their hotel in Argentina. Maybe CBS should get on the ball and start filming these vacations, borrowing the format of FOX's abandoned but incredibly addictive show "Paradise Hotel." —A.D.
Q: How can I get on one of these shows? Any of them except, of course, besides the ones like "Punk'd" that require you to be a celebrity? —Rahim
A: Rahim's question is echoed by dozens of other readers, who wrote asking how to get on specific shows, from "Survivor" and "The Apprentice" to "The Biggest Loser," the new weight-loss reality show. Here are some of the links to various shows' application information, which obviously varies by show, and by the time of year that you apply.
• ABC is a good friend to the wannabe contestant. The network has announcing casting for all of its reality shows. Some are familiar names, including "Wife Swap," "The Bachelorette," "Extreme Makeover" and "Extreme Makeover Home Edition." Others are shows we've never heard of, but that are apparently in the ABC hopper. They include "The Scholar" (high-school seniors compete for a free college education), "Supernanny" (stressed-out parents get tips from a U.K. nanny), "House Quest" (Texans compete for a luxury home), "Vacation Show" (families take vacations on camera), and "America's Most Embarrassing Parents" (self-explanatory, that one).
• CBS reality shows include "Survivor," "The Amazing Race," and "Big Brother." They've already posted but the other shows are not so clear. The , but it refers to the season that's showing now, which obviously is already cast. I'd suggest bookmarking this site and checking back later to see if the information is updated for future seasons. Surprisingly, even though we don't even know the air date yet for "Amazing Race 6," that show did have but it says that applications were due in August, so looks like it's too late for would-be racers this time around. Still, it's good news for "TAR" fans, in that we can expect a seventh season!
• NBC, like ABC, also offers one-stop shopping for reality hopefuls. The features information on how you can duel with The Donald on the next "Apprentice," as well as get a new look on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." Two other shows are also covered. In "Extreme Reunion" (aren't we sick of the overuse of "Extreme" yet?), contestants will reunite with lost family and friends. And "Home Intervention" promises to come to the aid of homeowners who are in over their heads on a remodeling or renovation project. NBC doesn't mention on the above site. Presumably, that show is so new that they're waiting to see if it is a hit or a miss before looking for more contestants who want to drop some poundage.
• FOX's "American Idol" completed casting by the end of summer for the season that will begin airing in January 2005. Aspiring Kelly Clarksons will have to wait, probably until spring 2005, to audition for the season after that. is the site to bookmark. If you're interested in the network's Frankenstein-esque "The Swan," check to see if there's an audition event planned near you. You can also call their casting hotline at 800-535-7936, or email a submission, with photo, to firstname.lastname@example.org by Nov. 1.
• The WB's "High School Reunion" will return Dec. 7, focusing on three graduating classes from Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Want your class to be on this show? The WB's , though it seems to need an update.
For other shows, your best bet is to use your Google skills, find your way to the network or show site, and poke around there. Remember, some shows won't have applications up all year long, only when they're about to plan a new season. And SirLinksALot.net has a , with links to applications for many shows at the bottom of the page. —G.F.C.
While “American Idol”’s winners — and losers — have gone on to varying degrees of success, the groups formed by music-oriented reality TV shows haven’t been so lucky. ABC’s “Making the Band,” the first network prime-time reality TV show, spawned the boy band O-Town, but after three seasons they gave up the reality TV life, went on hiatus in August of 2003, and then broke up officially last November. Of course, by then, no one cared.
The two groups formed on The WB’s “Popstars,” Eden’s Crush (season one) and Scene 23 (season two) followed in O-Town’s choreographed dance-stepping shoes. Both broke up in early 2002, and both groups both blamed that break-up on the dissolution of their record label, London-Sire. Scene 23, the boy/girl group, tried to hop labels to Atlantic, but was ultimately unsuccessful.
Furthering confirming that the reality television universe is one incestuous cesspool, both Kimberly Caldwell and Nikki McKibbin first surfaced as contestants on “Popstars,” and later went on to obtain slightly more fame on “American Idol.” Eden’s Crush singer Rosanna Tavarez resurfaced earlier this year as Ryan Seacrest’s news reader on his now-cancelled variety show “On Air.” Her other Eden’s Crush colleagues have appeared in a few bit parts on soap operas, sit-coms, in films, but mostly we’ve just forgotten who they are. If you’re desperate to spot your favorite cast members, look her appearances up on the . —A.D.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is MSNBC.com's Television Editor. Andy Dehnart is a writer and teacher who publishes , a daily summary of reality-TV news. Every Tuesday, they answer readers' questions on reality TV.