Reality television is unpredictable by design, and one of the challenges for hosts and judges is being able to roll with the punches.
At a recent Envelope Emmy Roundtable, four top reality personalities — Cat Deeley of "So You Think You Can Dance," Carson Daly of "The Voice," Mark Cuban of "Shark Tank" and Jeff Probst of "Survivor" — discussed how they prepare for the unexpected and stay in the moment when the cameras are rolling.
"I get so vested so quickly when we start shooting our season that I never feel like I'm doing homework," Daly said of his show. "The day that you don't think you ever have to work is the greatest day of your life, and I feel like that."
Deeley said being a people person helps. "I like people, and I like finding out about them, and I like seeing how they tick and how they work and what gets them emotional."
For Deeley, it's the technical aspects, like camera placement and commercial breaks during live shoots, that require the most preparation. "That bit I am a square about, and I do tons of prep on that. But it's so that when you're in the moment, you can just let it go and be in the moment and not worry."
Probst said "Survivor" requires a different level of preparation because of its complex logistics. "We do a lot of our prep because we can't make a challenge up to run the next day," he said. "The stuff we build takes weeks to build."
As far as hosting, though, Probst said, "I always get credit on 'Survivor' for asking these great questions, but really [the contestants] tell you what to ask if you just pay attention and listen."
For more from the panel, including Probst's thoughts on why American networks need to take more chances with new reality TV show, watch the video.