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Reality TV check with 'Guide' editor

Editor's Note: CNN Access is a regular feature on providing interviews with newsmakers from around the world.

TV Guide's Bernhard rates the success of "American Idol," "Survivor" and "Mr. Personality."

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• Ratings report: 'Mr. Personality' has none 
start quoteMonica Lewinsky -- the novelty factor wore off the first night people tuned in.end quote
-- Bernhard on "Mr. Personality"

NEW YORK (CNN) -- In just three more weeks, there will be a new "American Idol."

The first "Idol," Kelly Clarkson, has used the show for a springboard to success -- and the show didn't do too badly during her run, becoming the most-watched program in the U.S. The new finalists are giving it their best shot, singing before judges and a studio audience. But are the ratings holding up?

CNN anchor Heidi Collins spoke to Lisa Bernhard, deputy editor for TV Guide, on the matter of reality ratings.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: When ["American Idol"] first started, it was just a blockbuster.


COLLINS: Have those ratings gone down a little bit?

BERNHARD: It's gone down a little bit, but this is still a very strong show. This is a top 20 show, and, of course, it gets great demographics. It's gets a younger viewership, and it has everybody talking. It's great that it's interactive and you can vote. I'm all about Clay [Aiken].

COLLINS: We have to make sure that we give everybody a shot here. But there is some serious talent on that stage.

BERNHARD: It's great.

COLLINS: Who do you think the [front-]runner is right now? Would it be Clay? Or listening to the judges and the response from the audience, is it someone else?

BERNHARD: Well, Ruben was certainly a favorite. It was a shocker when a week or two ago he was in the bottom two, almost voted off.

COLLINS: I thought there was going to be a major revolt across the country.

BERNHARD: I know. He was the favorite all along. I think Simon has said that he thinks that Clay is going to be the biggest moneymaker of the group of all of the idols he's done.

COLLINS: Broadway, right?

BERNHARD: Broadway. But now, he's saying, "I can see him being a pop star." Look at how they have transformed his look. It's amazing what he looked like starting out. Now, his hair -- I mean, there's a team of people working on those eyebrows alone. It's incredible -- the transformation he has gone through.

COLLINS: It is. They all seemed to have become much more comfortable on the stage as well.


COLLINS: What do you think is better? The first go-around with "American Idol "or this?

BERNHARD: I like this one. It's a well-produced show. Everything about this show works. Simon has become a breakout star. He's very smart because he talks about walking off the show and not coming back for the next go-round. They'll pay him "Friends" money.

COLLINS: Oh, of course, they will.

BERNHARD: They'll pay him a million dollars an episode to keep him. He's playing it very well, and he's got a piece in the show.

COLLINS: He's a spoiler. He loves it.


'Survivor' finale, 'Mr. Personality'

COLLINS: All right, what about "Survivor's" finale? That's coming up on Sunday. Is this show still holding the viewers' interest?

BERNHARD: Absolutely. This show has been a top 10 show. Again, it was also a great demographic, and a lot of people think that this "Survivor: The Amazon," which is I think No. 6 now, is one of the better ones. It started out with this great conceit of men versus women, which a lot of viewers got hooked into. It's been a well-played game. There have been great characters. This guy, Rob, threw everybody off with breaking alliances. It's very popular this season.

COLLINS: OK, and finally, "Mr. Personality." I think this is a great idea for a TV show -- kind of weird with those masks and everything on, but interesting to think about getting to know the person without seeing what they look like.

BERNHARD: It is. The masks are freaking me out, though. I'm a little too afraid of these masks. They're a little too scary for me. Monica Lewinsky -- the novelty factor wore off the first night people tuned in. It was no "Joe Millionaire." Twelve million viewers, but she doesn't have that big of role of a show. And I'll tell you something -- this woman Hayley is no Trista. She doesn't have the star quality, so ratings have dropped off considerably for that. No buzz.

COLLINS: All right, [the] guys might be a little creepy too. I'm sure there's going to be much more to be looking forward to this summer, most definitely.

BERNHARD: Lots more to come.

COLLINS: Lisa Bernhard, deputy editor of "TV Guide," thanks so much.

BERNHARD: Thank you.

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