Emceeing reality shows can be a tricky task

The best emcees do more than throw it to commercial and eliminate contestants. They’re also a key ingredient into what can turn a show into a long-running franchise.

photos/_storypics/hosts_Banks.jpg” vspace=”3″ hspace=”3″ align=”left”>Tyra Banks
“America’s Next Top Model”
Strength: She knows what you need to do if you want to get on top, and is generous with her advice to aspiring models — especially when preaching how being different can work to your advantage.
Weakness: Can’t resist the cheesy skits and over-the-top drama queen moments, all the while being robotic as she hands out her patented line about the beautiful ladies standing before her.

Tom Bergeron
“Dancing With the Stars”
Strength: A veteran host who is wickedly agile with the quips and ad libs as he glides through his duties like a ballroom king.
Weakness: Often seems to forget that he’s hosting “Dancing With the Stars,” not “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

Cat Deeley
“So You Think You Can Dance?”
Strength: She’s cuter than passel of pups, with a quirky charisma that suits the show well.
Weakness: Her fast-chat style and thick accent result in pronunciations that are unrecognizable or easily mocked.

Chris Harrison
“The Bachelor”
Strength: Every bachelor needs a wing man, and he’s always there offering support to the contestant struggling to make tough decisions.
Weakness: Often fades into the background, making him less than memorable as a host.

Phil Keoghan
“The Amazing Race”
Strength: Best one-eyebrow hitch in the business, and he can rattle off the detours and roadblocks rules like no other.
Weakness: Never gets enough airtime so viewers can see how he might interact more with the contestants.

Heidi Klum
“Project Runway”
Strength:A classy, beautiful woman who knows her way around the runway and isn’t afraid to express her opinion in a way that’s not disarming.
Weakness: She’s not always successful in straddling the conflicting jobs as host and judge, which require her to be both hand-holder and executioner.

Padma Lakshmi
“Top Chef”
Strength: She respects the chefs and the craft of making fine food, never slipping down that easy slope of being snide or bitchy.
Weakness: Sometime a little conflict is good, and although her even-handed style is admirable, a little spice would be nice.

Jeff Probst
“Survivor”
Strength: Probst knows how to stir up those simmering hostilities, often throwing a match on a situation and watching it flame up like a tribal council bonfire.
Weakness: After 20 seasons, how long can he keep the sparkle in traditional lines such as, “OK, survivors. Ready?”

Gordon Ramsey
“Hell’s Kitchen”
Strength: You can’t deny this passionate potty-mouth gets the chefs sizzling in the kitchen to the verge of a total meltdown.
Weakness: Screaming like a drill sergeant gets annoying, and it’s only a matter of time before someone drops dead from stress right on the spot.

Ryan Seacrest
“American Idol”
Strength: From the start he’s provided the lifeline to contestants as they face the judges’ oft-harsh comments, interpreting their remarks for both singers and viewers.
Weakness: Spends too much time chatting with the judges, grabbing face time when the show needs to be moving along so it doesn’t bleed into “Glee.”

Alison Sweeney
“The Biggest Loser”
Strength: Not easy to take people to task who already have considerable self-respect issues, but this woman, who has freely admitted to having her own weight problems, keeps contestants honest and inspired.
Weakness: There’s not a spontaneous bone in her body as she recites the predictable scripts without any real feeling.

Donald Trump
“The Apprentice”
Strength: Never wavers in the boardroom or worries about putting all the contestants on the hot seat in determining who gets fired.
Weakness: He can be random in his decisions, often letting his feelings for a particular contestant — particularly in the celebrity edition — cloud his judgment.

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