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‘Survivor’s’ Courtney may just be skinny, not ill

With bones visible beneath her skin, "Survivor: China" cast member Courtney appears to be extremely thin, and seems to be getting thinner by the week. However, saying she has an eating disorder is only a determination that Courtney and/or her doctors can make.
/ Source: msnbc.com 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, msnbc.com'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: Why on earth would Survivor allow an emaciated and obviously anorexic person on the show? Courtney obviously has an eating disorder and looks like she already spent 39 days without food. — Ann, Havertown, Penn.

A: With bones visible beneath her skin, "Survivor: China" cast member Courtney appears to be extremely thin, and seems to be getting thinner by the week. However, saying she has an eating disorder is only a determination that Courtney and/or her doctors can make. While it appears to you, many other viewers and even fellow cast member Jean-Robert that Courtney has an eating disorder, we have a limited amount of information.

In fact, a doctor recently told “Entertainment Tonight” that her physical appearance alone does not give enough information to determine whether she's sick. "You don't know if she has lost hair. You don't know what her blood pressure is. You don't know if she is dizzy. There are a lot of the visual symptoms of someone who has an eating disorder. It doesn't mean a person has one, because you see this with malnutrition also," Dr. Ira M. Sacker told the show.

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Whether or not Courtney has an eating disorder, it's worth noting that unlike many other contestants, she did not come onto the show with a few extra pounds. Before the season began, Jeff Probst told reporters that Courtney was "the smallest person we've ever had. She couldn't have weighed 100 pounds, but she passed our physical test and was cleared by the doctors."

And according to her fellow cast members, Courtney does eat — although food is in short supply on "Survivor," of course. In an interview following her exit from the show, Courtney's castmate Leslie told Reality TV World that Courtney is "just genetically like that. She's not an anorexic. She eats, she just has a quick metabolism. I was worried about her out there to be honest with you just because I got real maternal."

Q: OK, how in the world does the "Real World" cast afford to drink and eat out as much as they do? Are they paid a monthly allowance or something? Every season amazes me with the amount of money they spend on booze alone! — Deb, Denver

A: Cast members on "The Real World" receive a stipend for their time on the show. However, unlike other reality shows, which stock fridges full of alcohol to ensure drama, MTV's venerable reality series does not supply adult beverages to the cast.

That may be surprising considering that most of the drama on "The Real World" erupts when the cast is blind drunk, and considering that most of the recent seasons of the show have come across as nothing more than a 24/7 alcohol-fueled party. That said, the cast can certainly be offered free drinks, and we've even seen bartenders or others offer the cast free liquor during various seasons.

When the Austin season was being produced, the AP observed the first few days of the production and found that a director wouldn't even tell the cast where to go get alcohol, although a producer did yell, "Perfect!" when the cast announced their intentions to go hunt down some booze.

The show, by the way, is currently filming its 20th season in Hollywood, so if you're in Los Angeles, look out for drunk 20-somethings being followed by cameras.

Q: Who won "Last Comic Standing"? I missed the final show. — Kristin C., Port Huron, Mich.

A: Jon Reep won the fifth season of the show at the end of the summer. He received the series' first cash prize, $250,000, and an NBC talent contract and special on Bravo.

Reep, who'd previously appeared in Dodge commercials and on Comedy Central, is set to appear in the "Harold & Kumar" sequel that will be released next spring.

Jon is currently on tour, along with the show's runner-up, Lavell Crawford, and the three other finalists (Gerry Dee, Ralph Harris and Amy Schumer). They'll continue performing until late December.

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