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Will these reality shows ever return?

Inquiring about ‘Last Comic,’ ‘Surreal Life,’ and a ‘Geek’ reversal
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"Survivor" is back, and yes, they're twisting again. Look for plenty of changes on Thursdays "Survivor: Exile Island" premiere, including four, not two tribes, divided by age and gender, as well as regular banishments to "Exile Island."

This week, we answer your questions about the returns of some of the shows that don't always top the Nielsens, including "Last Comic Standing," "Surreal Life" and "Beauty and the Geek." You can send in your questions about any reality show, but check the first — we've organized a lot of the answers to commonly asked questions there for your reading pleasure.

Q: Will 'Last Comic Standing' ever return?    —Anonymous

A: Yes, though we still kind of feel like we'll believe it when we see it. After a successful second season of the reality series that was a sort of “American Idol” for comedians, NBC greenlit a third season. Instead of featuring a new group of funny people facing off, “Last Comic Standing 3” was a competition between comedians from season one versus comedians from season two.

It was a ratings and creative disaster, and NBC cancelled the show in the middle of its run. Comedy Central agreed to air the already-taped finale, but days before that finale was scheduled to air, NBC revealed the winner on its Web site, angering fans.

Even host Jay Mohr publicly complained about the series, writing on his Web site that the third season “was a bad idea. We argued that having a separate version of Last Comic so soon after season 2 concluded would burn the audience out and damage the franchise.”

Predictably, the show was not renewed for the summer of 2005, and seemed to be over. However, the NBC exec in charge of reality series liked the show, according to Variety, and thus is giving it new life. A fourth season has been greenlit, and is scheduled to air this summer. At this point, however, little is known about the show, including whether or not host Jay Mohr will return.    —A.D.

Q: Is VH1 going to have another season of "The Surreal Life"?    —Emily

A: Yes. Since moving to VH1 for its third season, the show has been a hit, both for the network and the often-forgotten stars who appeared on it, and will be back for a sixth season. The show has already been filmed, and when VH1 announced the series, the series was scheduled to return this month. As of right now, however, it doesn’t have a definitive premiere date. (Here’s a guess: It’ll debut after Sunday night shows “Celebrity Fit Club 3” and “Flavor of Love” conclude.)

The cast this season includes Poison’s C.C. Deville and Smash Mouth’s Steve Harwell, plus actors Sherman Hemsley, Alexis Arquette, and Tawny Kitaen. As to the former reality TV cast member spot, there’s rumored to be a competition this time, with the other cast members voting someone into the house.

Florence Henderson will also participate, but only as an “on-call therapist/advisor” for the cast. Judging by past seasons, they’ll probably need to seek her advice about 30 minutes after entering the house.    —A.D.

Q: I love "Beauty and the Geek" on the WB. How come Aston doesn’t get gorgeous guys and geeky girls?     —Toni

A: That's the plan for the next season, believe it or not. Or it was the plan. Ashton Kutcher, who spearheaded the "Geek" concept, had announced that the show's third season, to run in 2006-2007, would do exactly that. No more details were given, and shortly after this announcement was made came a bigger one: The news that UPN and the WB would be no more, , the CW. It's which programs will survive the change, but we'd bet "Geek" has a good shot of making it to its new home.

I'd also admit to great curiosity about how this is going to work. Call me sexist, but I think it's women are more accepting of goofy looking guys than men are of unattractive or large women. Don't believe me? Have you ever seen the "No Fat Chicks" bumper sticker or heard the slogan? Have you ever heard the reverse? I'm intrigued by the concept, but I just wonder if the twist will work. We might get a chance to find out.     —G.F.C.

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