DO: Keep ‘em guessing
9 Images

Reality TV do’s and don’ts

DO: Keep ‘em guessing
No one likes to be bored. Similarly, no one likes a boring reality TV star. We all know it’s staged, people, so now what do you have for us?

Enter 6-year-old Falcon Henne, left, the kid who launched the family hot air balloon, then hid in his family’s garage while the media went Baby Jessica-nuts on the out-of-control balloon. Why did he do it? “For a show,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer later that day. Was this whole event really an accident or a hoax designed to drum up interest in the family’s stalled reality show development plans? We’re all guessing.

But if little Falcon needs any advice, he can always turn to Heidi and Spencer Pratt, the reigning king and queen of the reality-media manipulation game. Were they really abused on the set of NBC‘s “I’m a Celebrity”? Are they really as awful was they appear to be? Or is it all an act? Somehow, Spencer and Heidi are still making headlines, despite having any actual reason for being famous. Why? No one knows. We can only guess. This is the essence of reality stardom.

--Patrick Kevin Day, latimes.com (John Moore / Getty Images)
DON’T: Mess with the money train
A successful reality show will open many opportunities for its stars to speak their mind outside the safe and heavily edited confines of the reality show world. But as Jon Gosselin, the resident malcontent of TLC’s “Jon and Kate Plus 8,” is learning, you can’t talk smack about the show without repercussions. He’s now the subject of a breach-of-contract suit filed by TLC that alleges, among other things, that he’s harmed the show with his criticisms aired on other media.

Reality TV will let you look like a fool, but if you try to make it look foolish, prepare for a fight.

-- Patrick Kevin Day, latimes.com (Angela Weiss / Getty Images)
DO: Learn the basic skills to keep you in competition
If a show’s been on for double-digit seasons, don’t pretend you don’t know you’ll be tested on fire-making on “Survivor” or driving a stick shift on “The Amazing Race.” And for the love of Tyra, “America’s Next Top Model” wannabes, learn the names of some top designers and working models and deliver all this info as you SMIZE.

-- Hanh Nguyen, Zap2it (CBS, The CW)
DON’T: Book the florist too soon ... or ever.
We believe in love and marriage, truly. We’re just not going to seek it out on national TV or start a website about our love before we say “I do.” Yeah, we’re looking at you, DeAnna and Jesse. Haven’t all you lovestruck fools on “The Bachelor/ette” learned yet? Trista Rehn was a fluke!!

-- Hanh Nguyen, Zap2it (MCT)
DO: Be a charismatic, slick-talking, lying bad boy
The reality TV world didn’t know what hit it when Dr. Will Kirby stepped on the scene in the second season of “Big Brother.” His funny and charming personality let him lie, manipulate and scheme his way to half a million dollars. Many have imitated, none have matched.

--Andrea Reiher, zap2it.com ()
DO: Have a sense of humor about how cheesy you are.
Let’s face it, “Rock of Love” is a sleazy show that all but requires an accompanying dose of penicillin when watching. But why we do watch is because Bret Michaels is so unabashed about embracing his aging rock star persona. He knows he’s not pulling the same quality groupie that he may have in the past, but it still beats Internet dating.

-- Brill Bundy, Zap2it (VH1)
DONT: Be the second person to quit via Twitter
It was effective when Paula Abdul abruptly told her million-plus Twitter followers that she was leaving “American Idol.” When Mia Michaels turned to social media after a two-month absence to tell her 13,000 subscribers? Not so much. Mia, you’re way more creative than that.

-- Brill Bundy, Zap2it (FOX)
DO: Make the most of your time in the spotlight
Five years ago, Lauren Conrad was a girl who went to high school in Orange County. Now, thanks to her time on " Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County” and especially “The Hills,” she’s launched a fashion collection, become the spokeswoman for a cosmetics line and published a novel. That’s working the game to your advantage.

-- Rick Porter, Zap2it (Wire Image)
DON’T: Overstay your welcome
How do you go from mere reality-show antagonist to the most despised scruffy-blond-bearded man in America? By refusing to step away from the cameras, ever. That’s been the path of “The Hills’ ” Spencer Pratt and his wife, Heidi Montag, who seem positively addicted to the attention their show has brought them. Their reality-couple predecessors, Rob Mariano and Amber Brkich, hung around too long as well -- two “Survivors,” two “Amazing Races,” a wedding special and finally a barely seen Fox Reality show -- but Speidi has taken overexposure to new heights that just make us tired.

-- Rick Porter, Zap2it (Wire Image/CBS)
1/9