Last Comic Standing 5 debuts tonight; American Inventor 2, continue

This is the summer of reality talent competitions; there are at least six American Idol rip-offs currently airing, and six Project Runway-style series will air by the end of the summer. You’d think that producers and networks had run out of ideas.

Two of the stage/judges/audience series debuted on ABC last week: The Next Best Thing, a celebrity impersonator competition, which airs at 8 p.m. ET, followed by the second season of American Inventor at 9. Both are still in their audition rounds. On the latter show, the host and judges were fired, except judge Peter Jones. Joining him are new judges George Foreman, Pat Croce, and Sara Blakely.

Tonight, NBC kicks off the fifth season of Last Comic Standing with a two-hour premiere, which airs at 9 p.m. ET. It features a new host, Bill Bellamy, plus new judges, Alonzo Bodden, ANT, and Kathleen Madigan, all of whom were previously on the show. The show searched for comics internationally, and will award one a new prize of $250,000.

The Next Best Thing and American Inventor [ABC]
Last Comic Standing [NBC]

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.