IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Reality TV prepared to fill gaps caused by strike

The television writers' strike began Monday, but what that means for television depends upon how long it lasts. (The last strike went on for 22 weeks.)
/ Source: 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,'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: What kind of new reality shows are in the works in case the Hollywood writers go out on strike? I understand the networks will run reality shows in place of reruns. — William M, Cincinnati, Ohio

A: The television writers' strike began Monday, but what that means for television depends upon how long it lasts. (The last strike went on for 22 weeks.) While shows that are produced on a day-to-day basis — such as "The Daily Show" and "Late Night with David Letterman" — will drop into repeats immediately, networks have stockpiled scripted shows, including full or half seasons of new series. In addition, networks typically take a break from airing new episodes over the holidays, which gives some breathing room.

All of this means that network TV probably won't change all that much until 2008 — if the strike hasn't ended by then. And for those shows with extra episodes sitting around, there may be no noticeable difference. However, reality TV is ready to stand in and fill in the gaps if they start to appear.

Here's what we do know now about reality television this spring:

"American Idol" will return for a seventh season in mid-January and will probably bowl over its competition, even if it has trouble recovering from last year's relatively flat season.

"Survivor" will be back for a 16th season, which is currently filming in Palau, the same location that hosted the 10th season. Reports suggest this will be the second all-star season featuring contestants from seasons nine to 15. Typically, CBS kicks off new seasons in early February, but that could always be pushed up, since production will be done by the time "Survivor: China" ends.

Perhaps the most shocking news is that CBS could bring back "Big Brother" in March instead of next summer, possibly with a celebrity cast, according to a recent report in Variety. As to its other big reality show, CBS moved the debut of "The Amazing Race 15" to this past Sunday (it was originally scheduled to return in the spring), so it'll continue for about three months, well into next year.

In addition to bringing back its staples "Wife Swap" and "Supernanny," ABC has new reality shows such as "Oprah Winfrey's The Big Give" (on which Oprah gives people money that they have to use to help others) and "Here Come the Newlyweds," a competition between, well, newlyweds.

ABC will also air a sixth "Dancing with the Stars," but before that debuts, we'll see a spin-off show, "Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann," on which the two judges will train teams of dancers and get rid of them "Apprentice"-style.

Speaking of "The Apprentice," it will return on NBC in the spring for a seventh season, and this one will feature C-list celebrities such as Stephen Baldwin, Omarosa, Gene Simmons and Marilu Henner.

FOX has ordered two new seasons of "Hell's Kitchen," plus more of Gordon Ramsay's "Kitchen Nightmares," and while they've planned to hold the next "Hell's Kitchen" until summer, it could move up to spring.

Finally, The CW will continue to pump out new versions of its reality standbys: "America's Next Top Model," "Beauty and the Geek" and the "Search for the Next Pussycat Doll." It also plans a "Bachelor"-like series called "Farmer Wants a Wife."

In other words, right now, spring reality TV looks pretty much like it always did.

Q: How much time elapses between the live telecast of "Dancing With the Stars" and the taping of the results show? — Gail W. Lake Worth, Fla.

A: One day, because both are broadcast live (on the east coast, at least).

The live nature of the results show means that events late Monday or Tuesday can affect Tuesday's show. This season, for example, Jane Seymour has been absent from two of those live Tuesday results shows — last week because she had food poisoning, and earlier this season because her mother died — although she was present for the live Monday competition episodes.

During the third season, Access Hollywood revealed that the performances for some live shows had actually been taped earlier in the day, for some unknown reason, although the interviews took place live. But as Marie Osmond's recent fainting proves, the performers now dance, get critiqued and hear their scores live.

"Strictly Come Dancing," the BBC series that inspired "Dancing With the Stars" and shares two of the shows' judges, has recently switched to pre-recording its results shows late on Saturdays, after voting concludes. That angered some viewers, although the BBC's Web site for the show actually explains that "the phone lines will close at 9 p.m. The results show will then be recorded, to be shown on Sunday night."

Q: Is “Rock Star” with Dave Navarro returning this fall? — Betty H., Gilberts, Ill.

A: No. The show was not renewed after CBS broadcast two seasons of it.

Auditions for a possible third season were announced, but that's standard practice even when a show hasn't been formally renewed.

The second-season band, which ended up being called "Rock Star Supernova" because there was already a group called "Supernova," wasn't well received. Its concerts were poorly attended and its record didn't sell many copies. That didn't help the show's chances for future success.

It is always possible, of course, that the show will be resuscitated, but right now that doesn't seem likely.

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