Successful scripted TV shows are driven by strong characters. And it's the same among "reality" shows.
Richard Hatch was the earliest example of this. He nakedly -- pun intended -- connived to win the first "Survivor," creating the "alliances" that are commonplace today on other such unscripted shows.
His tax problems led to federal prison and the overbearing Hatch has faded away to a pop-culture footnote.
But one of the strongest characters ever has been the incredibly unlikable Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, a veteran of two installments of Donald Trump's "The Apprentice."
Pushy and belligerent to the extreme, she seemed to be everywhere on TV for a time, with much talk of her own show and a bright future.
Again, Omarosa -- she was known by her first name, like Madonna and Cher -- overplayed her "reality" fame and a potentially bright star has faded.
It looks like "reality" history may be repeating itself with the trajectory of Kate Gosselin. She's come through the on-screen dissolution of her marriage to Jon Gosselin on their "Jon & Kate plus 8" to try to dance her way into America's heart on the latest installment of "Dancing with the Stars."
Just two episodes into this season of ABC's highly-rated celebrity dance competition, she's become the lightning rod. If you spin the radio dial and sample the shows that follow pop culture, you hear questions about her fitness as a mom of eight, who leaves them and goes dancing on TV.
And there are the leaked stories from behind the scenes of the show that she's tough to get along with. She's tussling with her professional dance partner Tony Dovolani.
On Tuesday night, Gosselin and Dovolani ended up in the bottom three. While awaiting the results, she looked angry and unpleasant.
Meanwhile, Pam Anderson was also in the bottom three, looking happy and hopeful and very much like a professional TV star.
In the end, it was Shannen Doherty who was sent home.
Gosselin is being given credit for helping to drive last week's "DWTS" season premiere to its highest level -- challenging Fox's "American Idol" for first place. But ratings have slipped this week.
There are signs that, like Omarosa and Richard Hatch before her, she isn't a long-term star. In fact, we may see her dancing her way offstage very soon.
On TV: ABC caused anger among "Lost" viewers Tuesday night with the countdown clock to the return of "V" at 9 p.m. Don't expect that anger to stop such annoying promotional efforts -- unless the vocal reaction can be measured in the ratings.
- The first quarter numbers look great for Fox News Channel, with Nielsen Media Research reporting the best full-day ratings ever for the channel. CNN and MSNBC are down, with CNN slipping to third place.
- The first of Sarah Palin's "Real American Stories," airs at 9 p.m. Thursday on Fox News Channel. The special features LL Cool J, but the rapper tweets that his appearance comes from an old interview.
- EW.Com's Michael Ausiello reports that Tina Fey has succeeded in getting Matt Damon to guest star on NBC's "30 Rock."
- NBC has pushed back the premiere of what's likely the last season of "Friday Night Lights" to 7 p.m. on May 7, on Channel 4.
- ABC has ordered a 22-episode third season of "Castle" for next fall. It's been doing particularly well in the ratings since the return of "Dancing with the Stars."
Speaking of "Castle": As long as we're talking about "Castle," here's a look at the latest steamy promo for the show:
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.