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Readers pick ‘Dancing’s’ Bergeron as best host

We'll have to wait until the Emmy nominations come out this summer to see who the nominees are for the first-ever best reality show host award, but if it were up to you, three people will definitely be nominated: "Amazing Race" host Phil Keoghan, "Dancing With the Stars" host Tom Bergeron and "Survivor" host Jeff Probst.

Tom Bergeron received the most votes, and stood out for being in control. Although Barbria in Dallas also gave a nod to "So You Think You Can Dance" host Cat Deely, she said "Tom is witty, professional and is rarely ever stumped. His quick replies and obvious industry experience make him stand out from the rest.

However, I also love Cat Deeley as you can tell she just adores the kids on that show. She goes through every part of the process with them, and unlike some hosts (ahem, Seacrest) she is genuine and admires and cares for the contestants."

Vicki in Denver summed up Bergeron in a similar way, nothing that "he has a lot of egos to juggle, between the dancers and the judges, and he has to keep it cute without being too cheesy. He's found the right tone for the show."

A nameless voter gave a nod to "smart, funny, professional" Tom Bergeron, and went farther, saying "his co-host Samantha Harris should leave the show. She is clearly kept on the show as eye candy to counterbalance Tom. But her idiocy makes her so unattractive" — a sentiment many of you share.

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"Amazing Race" host Phil Keoghan is also beloved. April in Connecticut said Phil is "hands down the best host," and Matt in Arlington, Wash., said that's because Phil "provides a level head when all those stressed out bickering teams come checking in at the mat. It also seems as if he is really enjoying his job and that adds something to the show."

Some people were torn. An anonymous correspondent said that between Phil and Jeff Probst, "it would be hard to pick between them." As to the "Survivor" host, who also received many votes, Chris in Spokane, Wash., said "Jeff Probst sets the standard and is by far the best." And CK in Orlando said he "is perfect for his role. I have no doubt that 'Survivor' would not be what it is without him. He knows just how to call survivors out on the 'drama of the day' and also to put them in their place."

Others who were nominated by readers included "Dirty Jobs" host Mike Rowe ("He is not just a host; he gets down and 'Dirty,'" Carlos from Des Moines said) and Anderson Cooper, one of my all-time favorite reality show hosts. Beth in Charlotte said that Cooper's show, "The Mole," "was just OK, but he was great!" And David in Chicago cited the host's "active banter with the contestants of 'The Mole' as the best 'conversation' contained in any of these programs. He never broke character, but when he smiled, the entire cast would laugh at/with him."

"Iron Chef America" host Alton Brown was nominated by Susan in West Chester, Penn., for his play-by-play commentary. "Big Brother's" Julie Chen, who's often criticized for being so robotic, got a nomination, as did "Biggest Loser" host Allison Sweeney, who I think is just as robotic as Chen.

Q: I always wonder about the interviews you see with contestants on reality shows. In interviews the contestants speak as if they are being interviewed through every stage of the competitions and the show the show in general. "Biggest Loser" is a good example, where it seems like every contestant is interviewed after each person's weigh in. Do they really interview them that much? Or do they make them talk as if they were in the moment for editing reasons?  — Jessica Z., San Francisco

A: Ultimately, the interval of the interviews depends upon the reality show. But producers don't stop taping to interview each contestant about how they feel during every step of the competition or show. Instead, interviews that are conducted and edited to appear as though the commentary is occurring in real time.

There are two primary kinds of interviews conducted on most reality shows. "On the fly" interviews occur in the moment, when a producer asks a contestant a question about something that just happened or will soon happen. Those are easily identified because the contestant or cast member is wearing the same clothes as they are in the primary footage, and they're standing on location, often just off to the side. One-on-one interviews are conducted at regular intervals, depending upon the reality show, and are done in private, away from the other cast members.

Especially in one-on-one interviews, many shows ask their contestants to speak in the present tense about events that have already occurred. Producers conducting the interviews also ask the contestants to talk through the previous events one by one, recounting how they felt at particular moments. That allows editors to insert the interview footage into footage of the actual events, making it seem like the contestants are providing real-time commentary even though one-on-one interviews are conducted after the fact.

The first modern reality show, "The Real World" — which will soon debut its 20th season — perfected this technique. It sometimes doesn't work really well, though, because it doesn't make sense for a cast member to be talking about something that clearly occurred in the past in the present tense.

For example, if someone is shown participating in a challenge and they say "I'm jumping into the water and I realize ...," that sounds weird because they're clearly sitting in a chair. It'd make far more sense for them to say, "When I jumped in the water, I realized ..." People don't really talk about their pasts in the present tense, so editors and produces need to be careful to not draw us out of the moment.

Q: I've been dying to know what happens to the people waiting for their dinner that don't get served when Chef Ramsay tells the Red and Blue teams to stop cooking on "Hell's Kitchen" and all the tables haven't yet been served. Do those people just go home hungry? John F., Houston

A: Yes, they do. That's the consequence of being paid to eat a free meal at a restaurant that exists solely as the set of a reality TV show. In one episode of the show, diners even ordered a pizza, prompting them to be thrown out by Gordon Ramsay.

A few years ago, we talked to one diner who said that in exchange for signing non-disclosure agreements about what happens, "Hell's Kitchen" diners were paid $50 and received free valet parking, in addition to the free food and drinks. Of course, some of them didn't actually get to eat.

Another thing diners get is free swearing, courtesy of chef Ramsay. But in a conversation with reporters to promote the fourth season of the show, which starts Tuesday night, Ramsay actually said he doesn't like to swear. He insisted it comes from kitchen culture, and said, "Trust me: I don't enjoy cursing and I really mean that."

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

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