'Race' heads off in new direction

-- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:01 AM ET

A new night and timeslot — Sundays at 8 p.m. ET this fall on CBS and CTV — has sent The Amazing Race in a whole new direction.

Executive producer Bertram Van Munster announced Saturday that the 10th edition of the series, which has already been shot, travelled to several “hard-core communist countries,” including China, Mongolia and North Vietnam. There are also stops in Kuwait (about an hour from the Iraqi border) and Madagascar.

“This race started harder,” executive producer Jonathan Littman told critics Saturday. “We sent them head first into the toughest possible areas. It really threw them for a loop.”

Last spring, the free spirited “hippie” team, B.J. and Tyler, won the million-dollar prize. There are no hippies or seniors in this Race, but there is a lot of diversity, including the first Indian-American team, two University of South Carolina cheerleaders, a reconciling father/gay daughter team, two male models and two reigning Miss USA beauty pageant contestants.

The logistics of bringing 24 contestants plus cameramen into places like Beijing, China, was a challenge. “A lot of countries are not crazy about you running around with 20 video cameras and going in all directions,” said Van Munster. Host Phil Keoghan says the show’s international popularity (it plays in 85 different countries) opens doors around the world. He noted that The Amazing Race has been a No. 1 show in both Canada and Singapore.

As for some lingering doubt that the hippies got a bit of a free ride last time, the producers insisted that all the elimination legs are determined before the race ever begins and the fact the hippies kept coming last in non-elimination legs was sheer luck. “We don’t change anything,” insisted Littman. Added Van Munster, “because that would be a form of manipulation. We don’t do that at all.”

As for a future All-Star edition of The Amazing Race, Littman says it is a 50/50 shot. “We talk about it all the time,” he said. “We make up little fantasy lists in our head.”

One thing is for sure: Host Keoghan will never be allowed to compete. “I don’t want him to lose his race,” said Van Munster.


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