Fantasia is the favorite of bettors and Simon; finalists regularly hook up together.

Fantasia is the favorite of bettors and Simon; finalists regularly hook up together.
The top 12 American Idol 3 finalists face off for the first time tonight, and Fantasia Barrino is by far the odds-on favorite to win. Both online sportsbooks Intertops and BETWWTS.com have her as the favorite. Maybe more significantly, Simon Cowell also favors her: “If I had to choose one of the 12 now to offer a recording contract without the competition, it would be Fantasia,” he said. He also says that, of the men, Clay Aiken wannabe John Stevens will be the most successful: “If I was making a record, I would pick the ginger-head kid.” Speaking of Clay, he’ll perform “Solitaire” during tomorrow night’s results show. Elswhere, Ryan, Simon, and Randy tell MTV that the show’s finalists regularly hook up with one another. But executive producer Ken Warwick says that doesn’t end up on the show because “You don’t want to give any undue publicity to any one kid.”

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.