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Elise Doganieri.Emmy award-winning producer & co-creator of "The Amazing Race"
Taking 'The Amazing Race' To Africa
Posted: 03/19/2013 7:00 am

 There is something very special about the continent of Africa. The show I work on, The Amazing Race, has gone to nearly 20 African countries in the past 22 seasons and the diversity of geography and culture is like no other place on Earth.

This particular leg of the Race we went to Botswana, a landlocked country in Southern Africa that is 70% covered by the Kalahari Desert.

For this episode, we spent time at the Royal Tree Game Reserve outside the city of Maun. It's easy to feel at one with nature when you're sleeping in a wonderful tent under the stars on a private reserve on the banks of the Thamalakane River. The night sky is vast and mesmerizing; and due to the remote location we were in, every star and constellation in the Southern Hemisphere was clearly visible like tiny diamonds dancing across the sky.

Africa awakens your senses; the sights, sounds and smells are unique. This happens when you fly on a little bush plane, land and take that first step. It's something I look forward to when I return; it's welcoming and warm and there is something very pure about the experience. There is a silence and calm and you are instantly transported back in time.

At night at the safari camp there is such peace -- no sirens, car horns or radios blaring -- but what you do hear are the sounds of the animals around you -- like a lion walking by your tent! And hearing the sound of his roar for the first time can be a bit unnerving. In the morning, you'll see their tracks right outside your tent.

Botswana is home to The "Big 5" -- the lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros. Seeing animals roaming unrestricted in their natural environment is a spectacle. Most of us are used to seeing them in cages in zoos. Here, you're in the cage -- your vehicle -- while they wander around freely; it's amazing. In fact, I always have to fight the urge to get out of my safari vehicle when I see an animal close by because they are so beautiful, you just want to get close. Obviously, they're wild animals and you should never do that, but it's hard not to feel a connection when there's so little separating us.

In many ways, Botswana is a country frozen in time. We had our contestants meet with the local bushmen and learn how they live their everyday lives. The things we take for granted are tasks they have to perform every day to survive -- from things as "simple" as starting a fire and getting water from a well to hunting for food.

What the bushmen can do in minutes took an hour or more for many of our contestants.

We take pride in the fact that the Race takes contestants and viewers to places they've never been, or even seen, before. In fact, most of the contestants had no idea where Botswana was. It's fascinating how the contestants and the African bushmen were awed by each other's cultural differences.

That's really what we strive to achieve with the show: treat viewers to a cultural experience, not just bombard them with tourist landmarks. We want the contestants -- and, by proxy, our viewers -- to really get a sense of what it's like to live in the places we travel to.


Episode 7 title quote is up

Another blog from Elise:
Elise Doganieri.Emmy award-winning producer & co-creator of "The Amazing Race"

Bring Bug Spray And Leave The Heels At Home...
Posted: 02/15/2013 7:00 am
As executive producer of The Amazing Race, I spend many weeks each year traveling -- from scouting locations around the world to filming the contestants from start to the finish line as they race. Having just come off my 22nd season of the show, I feel like I can finally say I have packing and preparing to leave home down to a science.

My husband, Bertram van Munster, also produces the show, so he travels just as much as I do. First and foremost, we have a four-year-old daughter who needs to be cared for while we're away. We have a dog, too, and have to make sure he's taken care of as well. I'm fortunate to have wonderful parents who have been fantastic about stepping in while we're on the road, and who really enjoy spending this special time with our daughter.

To ease the transition, a few days before I leave I fly my mother out to Los Angeles from New York where she lives. I like to give her some time with her granddaughter to catch up and normalize their routine before I take off.

By the time we get to the show's finale, which films in the States, I usually fly my daughter and parents out to location, and find another caregiver in L.A. to watch our dog. Hotels with adjoining rooms are perfect for us during this time, so we can work during the day and have family time together at night.

For us, as for a lot of constant travelers, packing up a life to fit in one carry-on bag is an incredible challenge. Out of sheer necessity, it only took me one season on The Amazing Race to create a system that works great for me. I have a list of items, which I know by heart now, so I can pack the day I leave and still fit everything in.

I also live by some hard and fast packing rules:

Remember the Things You Don't Need: a hair dryer, heels of any kind or fancy evening clothes. When I'm traveling, I'm working. I find that as much as I might want to be a tourist in some of the fascinating locales where we shoot, I have very little downtime for any kind of fancy meals or nights on the town, so dresses and uncomfortable shoes are out; ponytails and jeans are my best friends.

Size Items to Fit: I won't neglect certain essentials -- sunscreen, moisturizer, insect repellent, vitamins and medications -- but I buy small, portable containers to make sure that I only pack as much as I need.

Pack All-Weather Gear: I have a special section of my closet set aside for trips. Quick-drying clothing and layers are incredibly important, since I might start in Alaska and be in Jamaica two days later.

Wear the Same Few Outfits: I learned quickly that I tend to wear the same few things over and over on the road, so I take just a few outfits with me everywhere I go, and mix and match.

For season 22, our first stop was Bora Bora. Every season, we try to go somewhere new for the first leg of the race. I always love seeing a place for the first time. The water in Bora Bora is like nowhere else in the world; it's many beautiful shades of blue. While I was scouting last summer, gorgeous stingrays would come right up to me in the water and let me feed them.

The landscape was stunning, but my favorite part of scouting is the opportunity to really dig deep into the culture where I'm staying. Bora Bora is full of friendly and generous people who truly respect where they live and what they have.

We visited the house of Tahiti's spear-throwing champion, who lives on top of a hill with the most gorgeous view of the ocean and the entire island. As a foreigner who typically works in a concrete jungle, I was really moved seeing the view that they wake up to every day, and how they live without the distractions of technology. It was incredibly refreshing and peaceful. The family made us lunch, and we all took some unscheduled time out to eat together in a little grass hut on the beach. It was one of those moments when I realized how fortunate I am to have this job and to get to experience, if only just for a little while, different cultures and how other people live their lives


Thanks to Paldog!!

CBS apologizes to veterans for 'Amazing Race' episode
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. TV network CBS has apologized after its Emmy-winning reality series "The Amazing Race" angered veterans with an episode featuring Vietnamese communist propaganda.

The show's host, Phil Keoghan, apologized before the start of Sunday's show for the March 17 episode in which participants in Hanoi were required to memorize a pro-communist song and use a downed U.S. B-52 bomber aircraft in the city as a prop.

"We want to apologize to veterans - particularly those who served in Vietnam - as well as to their families and any viewers who were offended by the broadcast," said Keoghan, reading from a statement.

"The Amazing Race" is a competition in which teams travel around the world to complete challenges and vie for a $1 million cash prize.

About 58,000 U.S. troops were killed during the Vietnam War (1964-1975) against communist North Vietnam. More than 7 million U.S. Vietnam veterans are still alive.

James E. Koutz, a Vietnam veteran and head of the American Legion veterans group who demanded an apology last week from CBS, said on Monday he believed the network's statement was "sincere and heartfelt."

"America is a forgiving country," Koutz said in a statement. "When you make a mistake, you own up to it."

U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona, a former prisoner of war in North Vietnam and one of the country's most prominent Vietnam veterans, said CBS "did the right thing by apologizing."

"We all make mistakes - the issue is closed," McCain said on Twitter.

CBS is owned by CBS Corp.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey, editing by Jill Serjeant and Xavier Briand)



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