We receive a varied batch of questions each week, and just can't answer them all. But even if your question isn't chosen, you might still be able to find your answer. Many of our past questions and answers are listed in the . We will sometimes revisit and re-answer popular queries, but the archive is a good way to possibly get the answer you want now.
Perhaps the recurring question we receive most often is: Will "The Mole" ever return? Many of you say it was your favorite reality show, and we agree, there was something fresh and fun and innovative about the Anderson Cooper-hosted show. (We're not, however, fans of the Ahmad Rashad-hosted celebrity version of same.)
While we haven't updated things don't look any brighter for it to ever return, especially since Anderson Cooper has moved on to a job with CNN. However, the first season of the original show, as well as "Celebrity Mole: Hawaii" are available on DVD.
Q: The songs on “Dancing with the Stars” are so bizarre sometimes. How are they chosen? —John
A: According to an ABC spokesperson, the dance pairs do not get to choose the songs they dance to, nor can they even choose from a list. Production staffers work up a list of songs with rhythms that (according to them) fit a particular style of dance, and try to get rights to use said tunes on the show. If they aren't granted rights, the song can't be used, no matter how well it might fit the particular style of dance.
Show staffers then assign an approved song to each couple as that dance comes up on their schedule. The couples do, however, practice to the assigned song — it's not as if the first time they hear it is on the dance floor on performance day. (The very similar FOX show "Skating with Celebrities" recently announced that its skating couples don't choose their own music either — on that show, the .)
If we had to guess, we'd say "Dancing" wants a mix of tunes that may be unfamiliar to the audience but that fit the dance in question, and easy-on-the-ear pop songs that viewers will recognize. They also seem to hand the weirder, more modern songs to the younger dancers — Jerry Rice and George Hamilton will never end up boogeying to "My Humps," while ex-boybander Drew Lachey is regularly saddled with a modern tune.
A few of our favorite inexplicable song choices from this season:
- Lisa Rinna quickstepping to Dolly Parton's "Nine to Five"
- Lisa Rinna dancing the paso doble to Europe's "The Final Countdown."
- Stacy Keibler jiving to Wham!'s "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go."
- Tia Carrere rumbaing to Samantha Sang's "Emotion."
- Tatum O'Neal rumbaing to Wham!'s "Careless Whisper."
- Drew Lachey tangoing to the Black Eyes Peas' "Shut Up."
- Drew Lachey cha cha chaing to Ricky Martin's "She Bangs." —G.F.C.
Q: What do you know about a new show on Bravo coming out that is called “The Real Desperate Housewives”? Their Web site doesn’t give any information. —Sarah, Houston
A: Could you mean "The Real Housewives of Orange County"? That show is set to premiere March 21 at 10 p.m. ET on Bravo. It will follow five women and their families, all of whom live in an expensive Southern California gated community.
According to , the women include:
- Kimberly Bryant, whom the Web site calls "the classic 'Trophy Wife,' thanks to her plastic surgeon and husband's money."
- Jeana Keough, former Playboy Playmate and actress and wife of former baseball star Matt Keough.
- Vicki Gunvalson, "self-made" woman married for the second time
- Lauri Waring, single mom who works for Vicki, one child was just released from juvenile hall
- Jo De La Rose, sexy twentysomething newcomer.
You can definitely see why Bravo chose these women. There are elements of Bree, Susan, Gabrielle, Lynette, Betty and Edie in several of them, though we doubt the show will come close to the stellar ratings of . —G.F.C.
Q: How does Extreme Makeover Home get permits in time to start a project in mere minutes? How many families have lost their new homes because they couldn’t afford their new taxes? —Sharon, Michigan
A: For starters, the producers, designers, and construction crews know weeks in advance that they’ll be beginning construction. While the actual construction does happen in just a few days, it’d be impossible to design, plan, build, and decorate an entire house that quickly. Sometimes parts of the house are even pre-fabricated. Thus, the only thing that really happens on a last-minute basis is the actual construction and decoration of the house, which is impressive in itself.
In addition to working with local construction crews and neighbors (whose lawns often get trampled and then replaced by the production), the production works with local governments to make the process go as smoothly as possible. For example, a home constructed for the show near St. Petersburg, Fla., last year was monitored by 14 different building inspectors, who came to the site 24 hours a day. Inspectors are scheduled in advance, too. Thus, when something needed to be approved, contractors didn’t have to wait.
As for taxes, there apparently are ways that the show helps make those more manageable. We . —A.D.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is MSNBC.com's Television Editor. is a writer and teacher who publishes , a daily summary of reality TV news.