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, send in your questions. Andy Dehnart, msnbc.com's Television Editor and creator of Reality Blurred, will try to answer them.
Q: What happened to Maksim Chmerkovskiy? He is not on the show “Dancing With the Stars” this season. — Donna, Los Angeles
A: He's officially taking a break from "Dancing With the Stars" during the show's sixth season. Maksim, who's been on the show since its second season, is working on a dance instruction DVD with Cheryl Burke, although she is appearing this season.
After the fifth season concluded, Maksim made comments that sounded like he was quitting the show because he didn't win. "If this is the limit of where I can get in a show, then let it be. I'm satisfied and moving on," he told Extra.
But in December, he told People, "I am not quitting the show. After coming down from two seasons back-to-back, 10 weeks each season — 14 weeks, if you count all of the rehearsals — it puts a lot of pressure on a person and it takes its toll." He added, I want people — especially my fans — to know that I appreciate their support. I am not turning my back on the show."
Many assume he'll return for season seven, which will probably air next fall. For "Dancing With the Stars 6," though, he has been replaced by Fabian Sanchez, a professional dancer who's paired with Marlee Matlin and is the only new pro dancer this season.
Q: I recently watched an episode of "Rock of Love" and noticed one of the girls, Megan, looks very familiar. Wasn't she on another reality show? I am thinking "The Bachelor," but it could be another show. — Carol, Huntington Beach, Calif.
A: Yes, she was, but it was not "The Bachelor." Megan Hauserman appeared on the third season of The CW's "Beauty and the Geek," which she actually won with her geek partner, Scooter. Now she's trying to find reality TV love with Bret Michaels.
Recycled reality stars are everywhere lately, and not just on shows where returning to reality TV is the point. (For example, MTV's "Real World/Road Rules Challenges" lets past cast members return to compete and cry for prizes and money, and CBS' "Survivor: Micronesia" features a cast half comprised of all-stars.)
It used to be that appearing on one show basically disqualified a person from appearing on another series on another network, but not anymore.
"The Real Housewives of New York City" features Bethenny Frankel, the runner-up on "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart." "I Love New York 2's" Ezra "Buddha" Masters previously appeared on Lifetime's "Gay, Straight, or Taken" and was on "Blind Date." "Top Chef 4" contestant Richard Blais was on "Iron Chef America." Those are just a few of many, many examples. And there's all sorts of other reality show crossover, too. For example, "Bachelor 11" star Brad Womack owned bars frequented by "The Real World Austin" cast.
In other words, Megan is not alone.
Q: No question, just a comment that I feel that each and every one of the reality shows, ALL of them, are stupid, not funny, cruel, tacky, mindless. Goes to show you the state of our country, given the popularity of these moronic programs. — Charles H., Philadelphia
A: Thanks for the comment. There's no doubt other people probably feel the way you do, too.
But you're definitely in the minority. Last week, seven of the top 10 shows on broadcast TV were reality shows such as "American Idol" (which took the top three spots with its three episodes), "Survivor" and "Oprah's Big Give." On cable, "Project Runway's" season four finale was the second-most popular program (behind basketball), and TLC's "Little People, Big World" and MTV's "America's Best Dance Crew" ended up in the top 20.
Those shows couldn't be any more different. The broadcast shows are a talent/personality contest, a mental and physical game of strategy and endurance, and a show that gives money to people to let them help strangers in need. The cable shows are a competition between talented fashion designers, a documentary series about a family with both little and average-sized people, and a dance competition.
Certainly, many reality shows have abhorrent cast members (Hello, "Big Brother" houseguests) and disturbing premises (such as the uncomfortable lie detector game show "Moment of Truth"), and there's plenty of plain stupidity all over the place.
But to lump all those shows in with each other — never mind to dismiss all reality shows unilaterally — is the equivalent of saying, "I hate all novels" or "all movies suck." Those kinds of statements are the best example of stupidity I can think of.
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is a writer and teacher who publishes , a daily summary of reality TV news.