Tonight will tell if Linz siblings win 'Race'
By Rick Bird
Post staff reporter
The Linz siblings -- Megan, Alex, Nick and Tommy. Channel 12's viewership for "The Amazing Race" has been more than double the national average.
Well, at least they haven't embarrassed mom.
Terri Linz, a part-time nurse from Anderson Township, whose four kids are in the running to be the first tri-state contestants to hit a reality show jackpot, said there have been only a few moments in CBS's "The Amazing Race: Family Edition" that required her to cringe.
"Outside of some choice words and passing flatulence - as the nurse mom would say - no, they've been good," Terri said. "All in all I've gotten nothing but great comments. And that's what's been so cool from friends. Even random people have just called and said it's so much fun watching your family and how heart warming they are. That's music to my ears."
Going into tonight's two-hour finale, at 9 p.m. on WKRC-TV (Channel 12), the three bothers and sister team are easily the most athletic and robust of the three remaining teams. The other finalist families are Linda Weaver, a Florida widow and her three children, and Walter Bransen from Illinois with his three daughters.
The four Linzes are the middle four of seven kids raised by Terri and her husband, Tom, a partner in a packaging company. The Linz team:
Nick, 24, a sales rep for his dad's company based in Buffalo, N.Y.
Alex, 23, an emergency room technician now living at home awaiting medical school applications.
Megan, 21, a junior at Miami University.
Tommy (aka "Bone"), 19, a sophomore at Miami.
The four have come across as a fun-loving bunch - yes, flashing some college-age, bathroom humor and a prankster attitude toward other players. They have done the challenges - including rappelling, building wagon wheels, bailing out boats, assembling railroad tracks, piloted a stunt plane and a hot air balloon - with an infectious good humor.
"My children, by nature, take life in a very good-humored way. They went into this knowing they would have fun, regardless. And it has been a ride of a lifetime," Terri said.
While careful to praise all his teams, the show's executive producer and co-creator, Bertram van Munster, who is personally involved with the casting, also seemed high on the Linzes in an interview last Friday.
"They had a fantastic dynamic, a really terrific group of people," said van Munster. "Most of them had a good sports background, so they had a good sense of fairness. They have a real solid all-American background."
"Amazing Race" producers took a chance this season by messing with the formula of the series, which has won three Emmys in a row for best reality show. The game has always featured up to 16 teams with two people each. This season, all 10 teams comprised four members who were related somehow to each other. Further, the race was mostly in the United States, unlike the usual around-the-world sprint.
Van Munster acknowledged ratings were down at first this season. "It is not easy to tell the story of 40 people, but as we went on, our ratings kept going up. I have gotten a lot of compliments."
However, van Munster said he has no plans for another family edition. The next "Race" will be back to the duo teams, but CBS has not made a decision yet when it will air.
"The Amazing Race" has almost quietly become one of America's most famous pop culture exports. Even the current edition is seen in dozens of countries and van Munster says it has become an international phenomenon that defines the country as much as Condoleezza Rice's globetrotting.
"The show is a fantastic business card for the United States of America," he said. "This is a beautiful country, and we get nothing but criticism from all the other stuff."
Van Munster says when "Amazing Race" crews show up to film in other countries, the show is almost instantly recognized and warmly greeted no matter how remote the locale.
The show is a logistical nightmare to produce with a crew of 2,000 almost constantly on the move. When suggested to van Munster that fans would probably watch a behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of "Race," he said, "Call CBS."
"In this business, and particularly CBS, they would never do it," he said. "I don't think they want to show how we do this stuff. They are opposed to 'making-ofs.' "
As for tonight's outcome, Terri Linz insists her kids have kept it a secret, which at times prompted her to call her kids midway through episodes asking, "C'mon I can't stand it."
"Repeatedly, their classic line is, 'Mom watch the show.' I can't believe these kids are doing this to me. Over and over. We are a pretty close-knit family and sometimes a mom can read between the lines. This time they are keeping it really secret."
There was a suggestion somebody may have leaked something last September when an Internet betting site halted wagering on the series because of an unusual number of bets coming from Ohio. Both Terri and the show's producer shrug off the controversy.
"We just had to laugh," Terri said. "My husband said he wouldn't bet on his kids so why would anyone else."
"We have investigated it and it's come to an end," van Munster said without offering any details.
He said he often dispatches decoy camera crews and uses other tricks to help diffuse and even spread rumors during a filming of the series to muddy the waters for "Race" pundits.http://news.cincypost.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051213/LIFE/512130303/1005