'Survivor,' 'America's Next Top Model' and 'The Amazing Race' are back with new twists
Summer may be (almost) over, but that doesn't mean reality TV is disappearing from the airwaves. In fact, it's almost time for beloved favorites (and some new contenders) to make their fall debuts, so here's what you need to know before you set your DVR.
Season Premiere: Wed. Sept. 14 at 8 p.m., CBS
Ozzy ("Survivor: Cook Islands" and "Micronesia") and Coach ("Tocantins" and "Heroes vs. Villains") will return to take another crack at the million dollar prize, but they won't be the only elements being recycled for the 23rd season of "Survivor." Not only will the show be filmed in the same location used for seasons 19 and 20 (near Upolo, Samoa), we'll see the return of Redemption Island and a Hantz (not Russell, but his nephew Brandon).
Season Premiere: Wed. Sept. 14 at 8 p.m., the CW
Are you one of those people who hates a celebrity so much you've actually wasted valuable time going online to bitch about them? No? Well, there are such people, and they are the focus of this tiresome reality show concept. Real celebrities are given the chance to confront their critics. Mario Lopez hosts and a nation shudders.
Season Premiere: Wed. Sept. 14 at 9 p.m., the CW
For the first time ever, "ANTM" will have an all-star edition, following in the esteemed footsteps of pretty much every other reality TV show out there. That being said, we'd better savor every moment, as the network says this may be the only cycle of the show we get this year. The "stars" will be Shannon Stewart (runner-up, Cycle 1), Camille McDonald (Cycle 2), Brittany Brower (Cycle 4), Lisa D’Amato (Cycle 5), Bre Scullark (Cycle 5), Bianca Golden (Cycle 9), Dominique Reighard (Cycle 10), Isis King (Cycle 11), Sheena Sakai (Cycle 11), Allison Harvard (runner-up, Cycle 12), Laura Kirkpatrick (runner-up, Cycle 13), Angelea Preston (Cycle 14), Kayla Ferrel (Cycle 15) and Alexandria Everett (Cycle 16).
The show will also have some interesting guest judges, including Kathy Griffin, LaToya Jackson, Kristin Cavallari, Ashlee Simpson, Tyson Beckford and "CSI" creator Anthony Zuiker, and others. We're not quite sure what Zuiker will have to contribute, but maybe he'll dissect the loser or something.
Dancing with the Stars
Season Premiere: Mon. Sept. 19 at 8 p.m., ABC
We all know the really big news: the cast will include Chaz Bono, Cher's son and transgender activist whose inclusion on the show has some people up in arms. But let's move on to the rest of the hoofers: actor David Arquette, NBA star Ron Artest, model and George Clooney ex Elisabetta Canalis, "The Hills" sort of star Kristin Cavallari, HLN host Nancy Grace, non-celebrity Rob Kardashian, fashion guru Carson Kressley, talk show host Ricki Lake, actor J.R. Martinez, singer Chynna Phillips and soccer player Hope Solo.
Another addition on the pro side will be Valentin Chmerkovskiy, better known as the little brother of resident hottie (and former Kirstie Alley partner) Maksim. We can only hope a tendency toward harsh criticism, smoldering chemistry and unstoppable sex appeal run in the family.
Season Premiere: Tues. Sept. 20 at 8 p.m., NBC
Even though tough love fitness freak Jillian Michaels has sailed into the sunset along with fellow trainers Brett Hoebel and Cara Castronuova, we can surely expect more screaming and yelling from some new additions to the cast. Bob Harper will be joined by tennis pro Anna Kournikova and Dolvett Quince. Dolvett's main claim to fame seems to be having trained Justin Bieber, which doesn't seem like much of a claim given that Bieber looks about the same as he ever did, but apparently Quince kept the singer in tip-top shape during a recent three month tour.
Season Premiere: Wed. Sept. 21 at 8 p.m., Fox
Simon Cowell returns to TV with some powerful back-up on the U.S. version of the Brit TV show. Joining him on the judging panel will be his old "American Idol" cohort Paula Abdul, Pussycat Doll and former "The Sing-Off" judge Nicole Scherzinger and record producer and executive L.A. Reid. British "X Factor" judge Cheryl Cole was briefly attached but was ultimately replaced by Scherzinger.
The show isn't a replica of "American Idol," despite the presence of both Cowell and Abdul. On this show, there's no upper age limit and judges are given a little extra work. Each one is assigned one of four categories -- either girls 12 to 25, boys 12 to 25, individuals over 25 or groups. They must then mentor the contestants in their category with the goal of pushing one singer (or singing group) to the winner's circle. Not only do they then get bragging rights, their contestant or contestants score a $5 million recording contract with Cowell's Syco Music record label.
Season Premiere: Fri. Sept. 23 at 8 p.m., Fox
The formula for "Kitchen Nightmares" remains the same for the show's fourth season: chef Gordon Ramsay comes to the rescue of sinking restaurants across America, yelling, cajoling and usually redesigning kitchens, menus, staffs and dining rooms in an attempt to save the business. Of course, even for the shows that seem to have a happy ending, it doesn't always come true.
The New York Post
recently ran a story stating that eight of the 13 New York restaurants that have been featured on the show have failed. "Unfortunately, they were going to close anyway before I got there," Ramsay told The Post, pointing out that stubborn chefs are to blame for their failures. "They want to take me on as opposed to listening to me," he said. "Chefs are so proud and filled with martyrism that they would rather sit there and sink than think out of the box and fix it. When they do well, it is never [publicized]. When they don't do well, you get the blame for it."
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Season Premiere: Sun. Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. (moving to Fridays at 8 p.m. Oct. 21), ABC
Ty Pennington will be back with his tool kit for yet another season, but this time around he has a very special guest for his first episode. First Lady Michelle Obama will join the team to help out after Ty picks her up at the White House (I guess she couldn't get a ride otherwise). Another stopping in, but far less welcome, will be Hurricane Irene, which shut down production on one episode though the storm did not damage the home.
Season Premiere: Sun. Sept. 25 at 8 p.m., CBS
Some faces will look familiar on the 19th season of "The Amazing Race" as "Survivor" winners Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca join Olympic snowboarders (Andy Finch and Tommy Czeschin), a guy who sailed around the world by himself at just 16 (Zac Sunderland), a former NFL player (Marcus Pollard) and seven other teams as they journey around the world.
We can also look forward to a double elimination and the addition of "the hazard," a twist in the game that will "impact one team's future on the race right from the starting line," according to CBS. But enough about that. We're eager to see Ethan and Jenna again, especially as Ethan recently overcame Hodgkin's Disease. Now, that's what we call a winner.