Author Topic: `The Amazing Race,' shrouded in mystery, ends in the city at a beachfront estate  (Read 2921 times)

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Lauderdale earns reality TV spotlight
`The Amazing Race,' shrouded in mystery, ends in the city at a beachfront estate. '

By Jean-Paul Renaud | South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted May 14, 2005

No one could know Fort Lauderdale was to be shown off to the nation on prime-time television.

Not the mayor. Not the Broward film commissioner. Not even the county's tourism czar.

Everything was shrouded in mystery surrounding the filming of Tuesday night's final episode of the CBS reality show The Amazing Race at the Bonnet House.

"I knew something big was going on," said Elizabeth Wentworth, Broward Alliance film commission director. "But they couldn't tell me."

In December, deep within the historic estate's 35 acres and under lush canopies, cameras were set up, lights were mounted and a stage was built without anyone knowing about it except a few Bonnet House employees.

And they were legally bound to secrecy.

"We had to sign agreements that we would not talk about it," said Dianna Silvagni, director of marketing for the historic landmark. "I would've loved to talk about it."

Once the two-hour final episode aired, the veil of secrecy finally was lifted.

"What an amazing place for The Amazing Race," said Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. "The Bonnet House loves the camera and the camera loves the Bonnet House."

The winning couple, Uchenna and Joyce Ugo of Houston, competed against 11 other teams in a global race that began in Long Beach, Calif., took them to five continents and ended 40,000 miles later at the beachfront home.

"We figured the finish line would be not only a beautiful place, but an exciting one," Uchenna Ugo told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

The 85-year-old Bonnet House has been trying to attract Hollywood for about two years, attempting to add film shoots as a new source of revenue for the nonprofit organization.

Producers approached the estate partly because of its seclusion.

"Because of the contest, we didn't want to be in a place that could be easily observed," production manager Adam Rogers said.

The Bonnet House was in tough competition with several other locations in South Florida, Rogers said. He said he would say which places -- if it weren't for that secrecy problem.

"I am still under a confidentiality agreement," he said.

Jean-Paul Renaud is a reporter for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, a Tribune Publishing newspaper,0,6909042.story?coll=orl-news-headlines-volusia