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CBS' 'The Amazing Race 5' to premiere July 6... and feature a former 'Big Brother 4' castmember


By Reality TV World staff, 04/02/2004 

CBS announced today that the fifth installment of its The Amazing Race reality series will premiere Tuesday, July 6 at 9:30 PM ET/PT with a special 90-minute edition of the program.

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After the special 90-minute edition, which will air after the network's 90-minute 8PM ET/PT of its Big Brother 5 series, The Amazing Race 5 will settle into its normal scheduled weekly time period -- Tuesdays at 10PM ET/PT, where it will follow Big Brother 5's regularly scheduled 9PM ET/PT broadcast.

As in previous editions, The Amazing Race 5 pits eleven teams of American couples against one another in a race around the globe for a prize of $1 million, however unlike in previous editions, the fifth installment of the series will feature a team containing a previous CBS reality show contestant -- 23-year-old Alison Irwin, the runner-up in last summer's Big Brother 4.

A contestant who, to put it mildly, incited strong feelings among Big Brother viewers, Alison will be competing in the series with her boyfriend Donny, a college football player whom she frequently mentioned while confined within the house all summer.

Whether Alison will be nearly as successful in a series where subsisting on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches would rank as a scroll in the park for the frantic global travellers remains to be seen, but CBS executives seem to think the casting and Big Brother-coupled scheduling might help the critically-acclaimed series that, unlike unlike its long-running CBS reality cousins Survivor and Big Brother, has drawn only mediocre ratings and been on the cancellation bubble after virtually every season.

"It invites more people to come to both of these shows," CBS reality executive Ghen Maynard told Daily Variety. "[Alison] had "a very interesting storyline on Big Brother, and I think there'll be interest among fans of that show" to see her on The Amazing Race.

Given that Alison was frequently shown flirting with other male contestants on Big Brother and wondered aloud if her relationship with Donny would still be intact after completing her Big Brother appearance, the simple fact that she and Donny are still even together will likely be a surprise to viewers -- and a reason that Maynard claims the couple's casting appealed to CBS. "If they had applied for The Amazing Race the regular way, they would have made it because they have such a fascinating relationship," Maynard explained.

As for why the network is scheduling the program as a 10PM ET/PT lead-out of Big Brother rather than for example, as a 8PM ET/PT lead-in to Big Brother, CBS scheduling executive Kelly Kahl told Variety that "I think having an established brand like Big Brother leading into The Amazing Race can really help us get the show even more exposure with younger viewers." "And given the amount of reality programming coming on this summer, getting The Amazing Race out of the (8 PM) fray could be very beneficial for the show."

While Kahl's comments make some sense, we can't help but note that CBS attempted a similar strategy last summer with its Cupid series, which originally aired Wednesdays at 10PM following Big Brother 4's 9PM live eviction broadcasts... and it was far from a success. Cupid struggled in the timeslot, drawing fewer than 8 million viewers an episode, and was moved to Tuesdays at 9PM (another post-Big Brother time period) after four episodes were broadcast.

Perhaps CBS will have better luck with The Amazing Race... or perhaps the network should simply have scheduled scheduled Big Brother 5 and The Amazing Race 5 each air an hour earlier (at 8PM and 9PM respectively) -- we'll find out this summer.

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