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Ian Ziering

By Patrick Day and Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers The host. In science, the word evokes the image of a hapless life form, attached in perpetuity to a parasite, allowing the thing to grow large and healthy without measurable benefit to itself. In religion, the word is used to describe the glorious armies of heaven, galloping across the skies to lift up humanity to a blessed and happier place. In reality TV, the word means a little bit of both. But not all hosts are made the same. Just as the ancient Greeks developed several schools of philosophy, the modern era has turned out many different theories of hosting -- be it the "Friendly Ghost Host" method evinced by Ryan Seacrest or the more dynamic "Hosting as Performance Art" practiced by Hulk Hogan on "American Gladiators." With the spate of new prime time hosts this spring -- including former "90210-er" Ian Ziering hosting "Your Mama Don't Dance," the time is right to study these men and women of the microphone, to learn what sets them apart from the common man. Danny Feld / Lifetime
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