By Amy Kaufman
8:00 AM EDT, June 21, 2012
From Bristol Palin to Louisiana's "Swamp People," it seems almost anyone is capable of getting their own reality television show these days.
But despite the proliferation of often ridiculous-sounding reality programming, the hosts of some of the genre's more popular shows don't think there's a negative stigma attached to working in reality TV.
"Everybody understands that it's a means to an end. I don't think people in the entertainment industry have a stigma about it -- or if they do, it's not enough to make them not want to do it, right?" said "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi, who joined Phil Keoghan ("The Amazing Race"), Heidi Klum ("Project Runway") and Adam Savage ("Mythbusters") for a Times round table last month.
"Ten years ago, no one in Hollywood was endorsing anything, and now it's like a prestigious thing to have a campaign for various products," Lakshmi continued. "Because in a disenfranchised climate of fractured media, anything that gets your name out there or gets it on a billboard is more publicity for you."
Still, Klum said she was surprised at the number of reality shows which have emerged since her fashion competition hit the airwaves.
"To be honest, when we started nine years ago, I thought already we were jumping on the bandwagon. I thought, 'Really? Is it still gonna be cool to do a reality show?'" the supermodel said.
As she quickly learned, it seems there are few reality programs too out-there to make it to television.
As Savage put it: "I was joking like, 'Oh, now there's going to be a reality show about parking meter maids' and somebody told me there already was. You can't come up with anything absurd enough that somebody isn't already trying to pitch it."
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