‘Amazing Race: Asia’ is on
By Bayani San Diego Jr.
Last updated 00:40am (Mla time) 07/07/2006
Published on Page A2-1 of the July 7, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
KUALA LUMPUR—The Asian version of the Emmy-winning reality show “The Amazing Race” was launched here on Tuesday by AXN, an international action and adventure cable channel from Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE).
From all indications, AXN pulled out all the stops for this franchise. Ricky Ow, general manager of SPE Networks Asia told Inquirer Entertainment: “It’s a multi-million dollar, mega-sized production. At first, we thought it was a mission impossible—logistically, it was a nightmare. We had to move 60 to 80 production people and tons of equipment in a matter of days across different territories.”
Apart from the traveling crew, the production employed another 60 to 80 locals in each destination.
Ow volunteered that a month and a half was spent on principal photography. “We are now in post-production; we start promoting the show in six Asian countries on July 8.”
First stop is Seoul, Korea. Manila is the penultimate stop in September. Delhi, India, is the last stop in October. No definite premiere date has been set.
Just like in the US program, which won three Emmy Awards, the Asian edition will pit 10 to 12 pairs in a grueling race in which they have to guess their next destination and outwit each other by coming up with the quickest possible route.
Ow said that over 1,000 aspirants from the Philippines to Nepal sent video auditions, some “professionally done and polished.” The big winners will have US$100,000 between them. (The prize in the US version is $1 million.)
“It seems the contestants joined not for the money, but for the bragging rights. It’s their passion,” Ow said quite seriously.
Acquiring the franchise, he noted, was a wise business decision. "Its first season was watched by 25 million viewers.”
Ow was sure the Asian edition had benefited from the lessons of the past nine seasons of the US original. He said he constantly communicated with one of the show’s creators, Bertram van Munster (along with Elise Doganieri), throughout production.
Ow said Van Munster had expressed “confidence” that AXN could pull it off. The next franchise is “The Amazing Race Central Europe,” which also began filming this year.
He revealed that they had also followed a “production bible—a manual that serves more as a guide than a rule book.” He explained: “It makes sure we stick to the spirit of the show, which is that the race cannot be interrupted by anything. Then again, no book can answer all the questions in life."
Allan Wu, a Singapore-based Chinese-American actor hand-picked to host the show, agreed: “The unpredictability, the drama and the suspense are but some of the secrets of the show’s success.”
Wu had bested models, veejays, TV hosts and actors from all over the region.
He is seen on AXN’s “Fear Factor” commercial, bawling after drinking 21 shots of pureed “sheep’s brain, maggots, stink beetles and rotten fish eyes.”
That experience made him “a better father,” he jested. “After that, changing diapers is a breeze.” He has two children, 21-month-old Sage and four-month-old Jonas, with his wife, Singapore actress Wong Li Lin.
He admitted that being a graduate of another successful reality show prepared him well for this new assignment. “I’m very much into sports— rugby, cycling, snowboarding, beach volleyball. I also studied Wushu in a Shaolin Temple.”
Apparently, his Hollywood training is also helping. Wu explained: “At the pit stop (finish line), I have to be poker faced to keep the contestants in suspense. Are they in or out? It’s a tough job, telling people they have been eliminated.” source