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Secrets of those horrible ‘Idol’ montages

Plus: ‘Bachelor’ breakup; ‘The Swan’ swam away
/ Source: msnbc.com

We received two questions over and over again this week. Viewers wanted to know how to audition for NBC's "Deal or No Deal," and they wanted to know what's up with Travis and Sarah of "The Bachelor," and why the show didn't air its usual "After the Final Rose" episode.

An ABC spokeswoman says there was never supposed to be an "After the Final Rose" special for this season of "The Bachelor," and that not all seasons have featured such a show.

OK. But just a day after we spoke to ABC, Travis and Sarah with their local paper, the Nashville Tennessean, and . Is that a record for speediest "The Bachelor" breakup? It's a bit sad, because I have to say, in my opinion they appeared to be solid people who had many things in common. The pair blamed, in part, the show's weird rules about remaining apart after the show.

As for the "Deal or No Deal" application, that's actually more a game show than a traditional reality show, so we won't be covering it regularly in this column. But because so many did ask, here's .

Q: On “American Idol”, I noticed the show has montages of various auditioners singing a particular song that is not the same as the song used in their audition. Why would someone who just got rejected continue to embarrass themselves?    —Alissa

A: That’s a good question, even though humiliation and embarrassment is what many of the “American Idol” contestants clearly seek, as they dress themselves in ridiculous costumes and sing horrible songs.

FOX didn’t respond to requests for comment, but we now know why, thanks to semi-finalist Jennifer Sieminski, who made it to the Hollywood round but was then eliminated. In , she says that those segments are not “even recorded in front of Simon, Paula and Randy.” In fact, those were recorded days earlier.

During the auditions, the judges don’t show up until the last day or two, and only see about 100 people who have already been screened, first by producers (who see small groups and narrow the contestants to a few hundred) and then by the show’s executive producers. And yes, all the way along, producers intentionally keep the worst and most absurd contestants, because it makes for good TV during the audition rounds.

During that second round, the executive producers asked certain contestants to sing certain songs such as “Lady Marmalade” — and they “only had the bad people sing it,” according to Jennifer.

Because that part of the audition was filmed in front of the same backdrop, it appears as though those awful singers featured in the montages were performing in front of the judges, when in fact that was recorded days earlier.    —A.D.

Q: Will "The Swan" be back on television? I thought they were casting for another season but nothing has ever returned about it.    —Nikki

A: Don't expect "The Swan" to ever swim back onto TV screens. FOX confirms that the show wasn't picked up for a third season, and we'd say it is unlikely to ever return.

There's no question that a lot of people wanted to go on the show, which took ordinary-to-unattractive looking women and put them under an intense regimen of plastic surgery, teeth bleaching, jaw realigning, gum sanding and who knows what all else. Most disturbingly, all the women left the show looking as if they'd come from some kind of Barbie doll factory, with long, tousled, just-left-the-bed hair and breast implants the size of bowling balls. Some day when the aliens come down to research our civilization, they're going to find old DVDs of this show and just be completely horrified at what it said about our priorities as a people.

A funny sidebar to "The Swan" cancellation is that the show has since gone on to air in reruns on Fox Reality Channel. David Lyte, who produced the show and now works for Fox Reality Channel, was quoted in the Calgary Sun as saying “The Swan was a worthless piece of television, I’m sad to say I produced. Those women were left sort of looking like cheap hookers and sent back to their small towns.”

Lyte then later wrote to this column's co-author, Andy Dehnart, and said, in part "I swear I didn’t say The Swan was “a worthless piece of television”. I hope I would never be that pompous. I liked The Swan. It is true that sometimes we did turn them out to look like….err…well, lets be honest about those breast implants, hookers isn’t a million miles from the truth."    —G.F.C.

Q: The ["Dancing with the Stars"] judges, Bruno and Len, kept saying this was the fifth series they have judged. I only know of the one other series that Kelly Monaco (and Alec) won. What were these others?    —Chris

A: Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman were also judges on three seasons of the UK version of the show, the BBC's "Strictly Come Dancing." Carrie Ann Inaba was not on that show. Instead, Len and Bruno were joined by choreographers Arlene Phillips and Craig Revel Horwood.

The is actually kind of interesting even if you haven't seen their version of the show. Where else would we have learned that Bruno appears as one of the dancers in Elton John's "I'm Still Standing" video?    —G.F.C.

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