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A contending blend

It's only fair these contest-filled shows now battle each other for kudos gold

“The Amazing Race” (CBS)
Last year, this globe-trotting warhorse took back its reality-competish title after losing to “Top Chef” in 2010. The win marked the skein’s eighth trophy in the category. Viewers have stood steadily behind series since its debut 11 years ago. The question is, are Emmy voters on or off the “Race” bandwagon this year?

“America’s Got Talent” (NBC)
The media blitz accompanying Howard Stern’s addition to the judges’ table, alongside Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel, overshadows season six’s record pace performance. Ratings were high (the finale drew 14.4 million viewers) and continuously topped key demos. That said, voters have yet to be impressed by the summer stalwart.

“American Idol” (Fox)
Despite nine consecutive reality-competition nominations, Academy members have yet to give the Fox series a category trophy. While skein isn’t as dominant as it once was, it’s still a crucial piece of net’s schedule and voters obviously still like the franchise. So far, the skein has eight Emmy wins and 50 noms.

“Around the World in 80 Plates” (Bravo)
This latest kitchen competish show borrows from Emmy-nominated reality juggernauts. In the vein of “Top Chef,” “Plates” features gourmet chefs. Like “The Amazing Race,” audiences follow contestants around the world as they compete. And in a nod to “Survivor,” competitors, instead of judges, decide who is going home each week.

“The Bachelor”/ “The Bachelorette” (ABC)
For the past decade, this franchise has provided steady ratings for ABC. This season’s bachelor (Ben Flajnik) and bachelorette (Ashley Hebert) had a little help recapturing viewers attention thanks to controversial would-be paramours: model/predator Courtney Robertson and bad-boy Bentley Williams.

“The Biggest Loser” (NBC)
Wrapping up its 13th cycle, the weight-loss show manages to resonate with audiences who are fighting the battle of the bulge as well as those who aren’t. With few changes in the basic format over the years, skein has soldiered on to become a workhorse in NBC’s lineup. Series is praised by viewers and critics alike for being a positive force in helping Americans stay in better shape.

“Celebrity Apprentice” (NBC)
The Donald managed to dredge up another crew of celebs wacky and crazy enough to yield drama and decent ratings. The live season finale in May attracted 7.5 million viewers overall. Penn Jillette, Adam Carolla and Lisa Lampanelli spiced up this year’s reality cast and gave audiences a reason to laugh — a lot.

“Dancing With the Stars” (ABC)
Despite slipping to 17.5 million viewers for the season-14 finale (the program’s least-watched finale to date), this vet hoofing show remains a viable reality force. Skein has successfully tapped into the cultural zeitgeist with a canny mix of celebs, athletes and politicians. With six nods in the reality-competish category, show is ripe for some Emmy love.

“Design Star” (HGTV)
With six seasons complete, this design-on-a-budget series isn’t going anywhere. Color palettes furniture placement, wall arrangements and teamwork proves enough for viewers, but not voters. The top-rated HGTV competish has yet to be recognized by the Academy.

“Fashion Star” (NBC)
It’s “Project Runway” meets “American Idol,” but whether or not the combo will appeal to Emmy voters remains to be seen.

“Face Off” (Syfy)
Described as “Project Runway” meets special-effects makeup, the launch of the second season Syfy skein improved significantly from its debut at the start of 2011. The season-two finale was the most watched unscripted telecast in the Syfy’s history, drawing 3.6 million total viewers. While the Academy has yet to acknowledge “Face Off,” judging from their “Project Runway” appreciation, they might be ready to recognize special effects makeup.

“The Glee Project” (Oxygen)
Skein’s first season ratings started off at a weak 455,000 total viewers and didn’t break 1 million until its final episode. Still, ratings growth was steady, and the show’s season-long average came out to 1.2 million total viewers — enough for Oxygen to greenlight season two. A good reason to gleek out!

“Project Runway” (Lifetime)
Although skein regularly receives recognition from the Acad, the fashionista-focused show has yet to be crowned the category winner. Perhaps season nine might turn the tables. Voters won’t be disappointed by contestants’ inspiring creations and endurance levels — not to mention a few catfights and the triumph of the underdog.

“So You Think You Can Dance” (Fox)
Despite a case of musical chairs when it came to the judges, as well as a few format changes, the public’s fascination with choreographers and wannabe hoofers hasn’t waned. While Fox skein has yet to be recognized for its talent competition, it has garnered Emmys in other categories.

“Survivor” (CBS)
Watching Sophie Clarke and Kim Spradlin strategize their way to a win in the series’ 23rd and 24th editions was enough to keep fans glued to the screen. Yet despite the reality behemoth’s entertainment factor, five years have gone by since the skein received a nom in the reality-competish category. Nonetheless, “Survivor” continues to prove its resilience by placing ultra-competitive and conniving players in exotic locals.

“Top Chef” (Bravo)
Bravo spiced things up during season nine with the addition of two judges: Emeril Lagasse and former “Top Chef Masters” competitor Hugh Acheson. Skein also used a new backdrop – Texas. But it really doesn’t matter where the top-of-their-game contestants cook or in season nine’s case, barbecue. Voters and viewers alike are consistently drawn to chefs, so much so that this program managed to knock “The Amazing Race” off its Emmy winning streak two years ago. Can it happen again?

“The Voice” (NBC)
The talent level among contestants was very strong, making the eliminations brutal. To invoke a slogan from an earlier Peacock era, “The Voice” is must-see-TV.

“The X Factor” (Fox)
If the Emmys crown skein’s debut season, that could be confounding for producer Simon Cowell. While “X Factor” averaged 12.7 million viewers, judges Nicole Scherzinger, Paula Abdul and host Steve Jones ankled the show. Fox and Cowell hope replacing them with Britney Spears and Demi Lovato will lead to even higher ratings.

Road to the Emmys 2012: Reality Competition
Sugar spices skeins | Runners-up run up to series stardom | Music not the food of Emmy love | Race to mimic success of ‘Amazing’ never ends | A contending blend | Why we watch

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