From Your Hometown To The Reality Tube, Catching Up With Summer's Dallas-Bred TV Stars

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In gearing up for Project Runway, we've been checking out Louise Black's fashions. We've also been gut-checking to see if we can handle watching Dallas' David Cohen on, um, Megan Wants a Millionaire (because Beauty & the Geek, Rock of Love and I Love Money weren't enough for that girl).

See, we've been fairly quiet about our homegrown reality show talent of late, but we might have to blog about Black and Cohen for their promise and absurdity, respectively. Well, wait.  Project Runway, we will have to blog about. As for Cohen, if your new show turns out too nauseating to mention, know you've at least got our best wishes.

Before we move on to the newest faces in the crowd, let's take a look back at a few of the summer's local "celebri-testants" and where they are now, just in case you missed 'em:

She's Got the Look:

Laurie, 42: From the minute she walked into the casting call, there was something very strange about this thin blond. She compared herself to Joan of Arc and Oprah, for one. Her behavior was frenetic and included a Flashdance-like workout session on a bus ride through NYC. She then took her top off (her idea, mind you) during a judging panel and asked to be sent home if she wouldn't be allowed to "take care" of the other ladies in the contest. We'd guess the producers would have loved to have kept her one for at least two more episodes, but Laurie was far from cooperative. Limber? Yes. Sane? Not so sure. But entertaining? Absolutely. You didn't have to watch the whole season to witness the train wreck. (If this clip's NSFW, then so's TV Land, and do you even want to be working somewhere that can't handle TV Land?)

LeeAnne, 41: First off, she grew up as a carny, which is awesome. She got a lot of crap about being too actressy from the judges, but honestly, her portfolio was one of the few that we'd want to look at come day's end. And her 41-year-old abs were perfect for SELF Magazine (the winner got a spread in said rag). She had a rivalry with Midwestern Shelly and at first we thought LeeAnne was in the wrong, but then Shelly, who started out demure and self-doubting, ended up bitchy, sinister and kinda scary, and we felt former Walker, Texas Ranger actress LeeAnne deserved her spot in the final three. She walked the catwalk but failed to have "the Look" so she was sent back to DFW. Concerning a reality TV match made in Dallas, we wonder if she's still dating Dallas S.W.A.T. hottie Rich Emberlin... Either way, she claims to still be active in hosting, infomercials and the occasional acting gig, so we can all breathe a very well-scripted sigh of relief.

The Next Food Network Star

Melissa d'Arabian, 40: Now, we didn't entirely neglect the mom of four from Keller (recently relocated to Washington, but meh), since Dave asked her 10 questions over on City of Ate, but it's not like we kept up with her either. She was clearly someone who would stay on week after week: She was a maternal force in the cast, the judges liked her food, she had a great story what with being taught to cook by her single mom, and she actually got better as the show went on. But was it obvious that the other contestants -- who had professional experience -- had a problem with her success? Yeah. Did one dude who originally seemed cool try to sabotage her halfway through the show? Yeah. Was it weird when she won and maybe one of the other contestants looked genuinely happy for her? Yeah.

We dig her point of view, but aren't sure she deserves the win after seeing finalist Jeffrey's pilot offering. In fact, Dude Fooder Noah agrees: If she gets a show, the "Ingredient Smuggler" should get one too...even if they wait some unsuspecting month or so to give it to him. But for now, we can all check out d'Arabian's Ten Dollar Dinners, in which she offers meals for four -- you guessed it -- under ten bucks. Given the economy, it's easy to see why the Food Network peeps went this direction, and well, if it's even one iota better than previous winners' efforts (the artery clogging, trying-too-hard Big Daddy's House or the insufferable Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives), then we guess they have a successful show on their hands.

HGTV Design Star:

Jany Lee: Our Dallas gal got booted last week after four challenges that each resulted in the judges saying something to the effect of, "Well, now wasn't that predictable?" A chocolate and blue bedroom, a tile backsplash, a bold geometric paint job in an IKEA-furnished white room, a Hamptons-style garage right out of the Thomasville showroom. In her exit interview Lee allowed that perhaps her goal of creating beautiful rooms isn't enough to win a show on HGTV -- she's not out to go crazy, and the judges obviously wanted that. Which is actually funny to us. See, Design Star is so the poor man's Top Design. It's not like you see judges Candice Olson, Vern Yip or Genevieve Gorder (or any HGTV designer, really) really going batshit on their shows, so it seems totally bizarre that they demand it of their contestants.

When you look at Top Design, it's safe to say that designers Jonathan Adler and Kelly Wearstler, as well as Margaret Russell of Elle Décor, are top-level edge-walking envelope-pushers. Seems to us that Ms. Jany Lee was sorta on par with her textbook traditional-glam. We say they just kicked her off for street cred. She continues to design locally, but wethinks her fave HGTV show may no longer be Olson's Divine Design. Just a guess.

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