Pop Culture

Will reality TV return to ‘Paradise’?

Before we get to the questions, an update for reality TV watchers: Expect a different TV schedule this week. "American Idol" has been on three times a week for three weeks, but now it's back to just two airings  — Tuesday performance with a Wednesday vote-off, and no Monday show.

Because of the NCAA basketball tournament, "Survivor" has moved from Thursday to Wednesday for two weeks, starting this week. And those who are hoping that "The Apprentice" will fill that Thursday void this week should know that Donald Trump and pals are offering up a clip show.

Q: Whatever happened to the reality show Paradise Hotel? It only was on for one season.  Will it be making a return to television?    —Jerry, San Antonio

Andy says: Oh, how much we miss the summer of 2003, with “Paradise Hotel” bringing middle school-style conflicts and romances into our living rooms. Set at Villa Arabesque in Acapulco, the series was a tour de immaturity, and it was fantastic, populated with unparalleled cast members including “Love Cruise”’s Toni Ferrari. And now there’s news that it might be coming back this summer.

During its summer run, “Paradise Hotel” wasn’t watched by “American Idol”-sized audiences, but it often won its time period in the advertiser-coveted 18 to 49 demographic. More significantly, it developed a pretty substantial cult following. The show did so well FOX added six weeks to its run and also sold the format internationally. FOX’s Gail Berman hinted that the series might return during the summer of 2004.

But it never returned. A distant relative of the series did air on FOX the following year, but “Forever Eden” was really an awkward half-cousin. Planned as a series that would run indefinitely, its lame casting and confusing game structure led to FOX airing only seven episodes before pulling the plug.

Thus, “Paradise Hotel” fans — like and not its annoying cousin “Celebrity Mole” — sat and waited, until last week, when an exec at the production company that produced the show said FOX was discussing bringing the show back. that both cost and controversy played into the decision to not let it return. But the series has done well overseas, and FOX is apparently now talking about bringing it back. To help with the cost, an idea has been floated to bring the original cast back to paradise, which would be even more thrilling.

However, shortly after this report came out, “an operative” “that the show will not be back.” We’re refusing to believe it, though, until we hear official word.

Gael says: Every time I check the "Ask the Reality Experts" mailbag, I am floored at how many people are itching to know more about "Paradise" and "Eden." It is truly the Question that Will Not Die. In the last 45 days, we've been asked about the show more than 25 times.

"Paradise Hotel," with its good-looking meanies and its slow-to-awaken good guys, had a bit of everything — except good taste. It had crazy Tom, who carried around a stuffed monkey named Smokey. It had evil uber-couple Amy and Zack, and Zack's on-air threat to come after another contestant, Keith, with "about 50 guys." It had lovely-if-dim Charla, who finally wised up and led the more likable contestants to victory.

And in the end, it has some bizarre unfairness, where Keith and Charla each won $250,000 and had the option to split it with the roommate who'd gotten them that far. It was a split decision — adorable Keith split the cash with love interest Tara, but Charla, after talking to perennial reality contestant Toni, kept it all for herself. (Sorry, Dave!) You don't see that kind of drama on PBS.

As much as it would be entertaining to see the show come back, maybe it's best to just let sleeping cheese lie. It could never be as deliciously bad again.

Q: What kind of reviews did "Wickedly Perfect" get? I liked it -- just wondering if I was the only one.    —Jon

[Editor's Note: This one is really more of a comment.]
I watched the show "Wickedly Perfect" on CBS every week and the night they held the finale it was not in the TV Guide that they were going to do this.  That is the only one I missed.  I won't watch another one if they don't even advertise that they are holding the finale.

A: Jon, you were not the only one, but it was close. Sandra, lots of people had the same problem. Even those who had their VCRs or TiVos set to record the normally hour-long "Wickedly Perfect" a couple weeks ago were disappointed, as many guides listed only an hour-long "Perfect" followed by "N.C.I.S." But all of a sudden, on March 5, a two-hour finale rolled.

You can get a but here's the short version: Kimberly (recently brought back after Mitch voted her off) faced off against Mitch in the final challenge. Both had to create a style magazine cover and throw a party. Both parties featured bizarre cocktails (Mitch's was a clear tomato martini; Kimberly served Champagne with almond syrup and a cinnamon stick) and both perhaps decorated with too much red. Kimberly didn't even bother to taste her food, and the judges hated it. Her magazine cover looked like a copy of Martha Stewart, but it was prettier and less busy than Mitch's cover. Both parties looked agonizingly dull to this viewer, but at least Mitch got raves for his food.

Oddly enough, it wasn't the opinion of the partygoers, but that of the three judges that counted. The first two judges split — Candace Bushnell for Kimberly, David Evangelista for Mitch — and chef Bobby Flay broke the tie by voting for Kimberly. As the winner, Kimberly gets six appearances on CBS's "Early Show,"  a TV development deal and a book deal. Expect lots of ribbon flowers (Kimberly's much-overused signature craft) to make their appearance.

And to the many who asked if we'll be seeing "Wickedly Perfect 2": Not if the Nielsen ratings have anything to do with it. CBS did poorly with the show all along, and on the night of the finale, the network came in last. (Of course, perhaps if they'd actually promoted the finale...) But fans of craft wars can look ahead to Martha Stewart's new version of "The Apprentice" as well as check out on cable's Style Network. —G.F.C.

Q: I recently saw an AOL TV commercial in which it appeared that Heather, the black rapper from MTV's Real World New York (first season), had a spot. Can you confirm this?    —Heidi

A: Couldn't find any absolute proof, but this season one fan certainly thinks it's her. (For those who want to see for yourself, watch for the constantly running commercials for AOL virus protection. I hunted for an online link, but couldn't find one.)

Makes me a little nostalgic for those long-ago days when "The Real World" actually cast real people. After a dozen seasons, Heather B. and Julie's friendship is still one of my favorite storylines of any "Real World" season.    —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.