Cleveland men in reality show
Best friends are first Islamic team on `Amazing Race'; their faith apparently is series topic
By R.D. Heldenfels
The next season of The Amazing Race will include a pair from Cleveland -- the first Islamic team in the reality show's history.
Best friends Bilal Abdul-Mani, 37, a medical supply technician, and Sa'eed Rudolph, 39, a power lineman, will be among 12 teams on The Amazing Race 10, which begins this fall on CBS.
``They're fantastic,'' Race host Phil Keoghan said after a news conference Saturday to announce the next cast of the show. ``They're great guys, and I think they have a particular message they want to share.''
The message appears to involve their religion because CBS publicity material said the two men ``have spent years bonding over their love of food, Browns football and their shared Islamic faith.'' Race executive producer Bertram Van Munster said Abdul-Mani and Rudolph are very open about their beliefs -- and the teamstands out in the photo of the new cast.
Although a positive message about Islam will be especially important this fall when so much attention is focused on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, Van Munster said that was not a factor in the Cleveland team's selection.
``These guys are two terrific guys and really give a phenomenal image of who they are,'' he said. ``It was a fantastic opportunity to have some real good people of that quality on the show.''
The show looks constantly for diversity in the teams it puts on the air, and Van Munster said the new group ``is as different as it's ever been.''