This is an older article but I don't think it was posted so here goes~ 'Amazing Race' goes to Ireland
Nov. 5, 2007 12:00 AM
The failure of the scripted drama "Viva Laughlin" after just two episodes broadcast in four days came with the kind of embarrassment that meets early losers on "The Amazing Race," which stepped up Nov. 4 to replace it.
All it lacked was Phil Keoghan intoning gravely, "You are last to arrive. I'm afraid you have been eliminated from the race."
The replacement of a much-promoted scripted series with a reality show also foreshadows what might happen with the newly called strike of the Writers Guild of America.
"I find it terrible it has to come to this," says Bertram van Munster, creator and producer of "The Amazing Race." "But you know what happened in the 1988 strike -- it was the birth of reality TV as we know it today."
Reality shows are expected to replace scripted shows if the strike lasts any length of time, just as "The Amazing Race" will replace "Viva Laughlin" on CBS -- a superior slot for the family-oriented reality show.
"We're thrilled we're on earlier in the schedule," van Munster says in a phone interview. What's more, he says, "the show is ready to go. We're editing it right now. But it's fresh off the presses, no doubt about it."
Eleven teams of two in various existing relationships are off on the race, which begins from the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles and travels immediately to Shannon, Ireland, an island the show hadn't visited in its 11 previous seasons.
"I never wanted to go to Ireland," van Munster says. "I thought it was kind of dull."
Logistics are a big portion of producing "The Amazing Race" worldwide, an endeavor that can be trying in some corners of the globe.
"We're on the African continent in a country you can't pronounce the capital of," van Munster says. "We're in the middle of nowhere in some places, where people have never seen television before -- and these are the people who are our local support staff."
More often, there is a worldwide recognition of "The Amazing Race" from its screenings in other countries.
"In India last season, we were at the airport and someone there said, I thought those people got voted off last week.' We were shooting the all-star edition and they were watching the previous season."
And if writing isn't part of the show, a lot of the creativity for producers comes in not only the travel and the tasks but the casting.
Among the standout teams are the vividly attired Goth couple from Louisville, Ky., and all manner of dating couples, pairs of friends and sisters (but, to level the playing field, no young male teams).
It's good to have new people, van Munster says.
"I don't care for the all-star editions," he says. "We always find great new contestants. I'd rather see them. If you go with people who have done it before, they think they know all tricks of the trade."
Another season that didn't work sent families of four on the race, he says. For one thing, it was tough to track 44 people, he says. For another, there was a lack of exotic locations in a race that stayed pretty much in North America.
This year, there will be five new countries, including Lithuania and Croatia.
There are other changes this season, chief of which is the elimination of the non-elimination stops. This means a team will be cut every week of the 10-week run.
But "Race" as a show has never lost in the Emmy category in which it has been nominated for five consecutive years: Outstanding Reality Competition Program.
"I'm always very surprised," van Munster says of the wins. "But for us it's a tremendous honor. The academy really sees what it takes to do the show."Source