INTERVIEW: Rob and Amber talk about their 'Amazing' wipeout
By Christopher Rocchio, 03/12/2007
After easily winning the first three legs, Rob and Amber Mariano were surprisingly the fourth team eliminated from CBS' The Amazing Race: All-Stars. On Monday, the 30-year-old Rob and 28-year-old Amber talked to Reality TV World about the abrupt end to their All-Stars journey; how they align and lie to their advantage; as well as what's next in their careers as professional reality television stars.
Reality TV World: You guys won the first three legs. What happened during the fourth leg?
Rob: It was horrendous. We had some bad luck to start out with and it kind of snowballed. There wasn't much we could do about it. Amber: Every chance we got to make-up for it, something else kept happening. And we kept trying to make-up the time and something else would happen. After we made-up for [losing time while trying the "Sign It" Detour challenge], we got on the second [charter flight], got to the airport and we get outside and there aren't any taxis, so everything kept snowballing. It was a bad leg. Rob: Then to top it all off, at the end at the final Roadblock, it was a challenge that was a needle in the haystack, [a] lucky thing [of] who could find their letter first. There was no real skill to it.
Reality TV World: Rob, you appeared a little more fatigued during the fourth leg of the race than you looked during previous legs. Was that the case?
Rob: It was frustrating to deal with not being in the beginning of the pack, but a lot of times people don't see the actual sleep deprivation that the racers go through. And at this point I think we were up for two or three days straight. So it was definitely taking a toll, but it's not an excuse. We were still gung-ho and ready to go and win that leg of the race when we started out, and we gave it 100% effort all the way through. At the very end, [the producers] showed it being very close. [But] it wasn't too close in actuality, it was about 10-15 minutes [between when Charla Baklayan Faddoul and Mirna Hindoyan checked in at the Pit Stop amd we did].
Reality TV World: Rob, during the first leg of the race, you guys switched Detour challenges midway through and it worked. Why didn't you listen to Amber and switch to "Navigate It" from "Sign It" during the fourth leg?
Rob: You know hindsight is 20/20. We had spent so much time trying to get it right, and in the actual rules and instructions -- even though [The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan] said it in a voiceover last night that spelling was important -- it was actually not conveyed to us that spelling was an issue. So I knew Magellan's route, and I knew that he left from Seville, Spain from history class, but I couldn't figure it out what was wrong. Amber: And to give Rob credit, this [Detour], I had no idea where Magellan went or where he started or finished or anything, so I felt bad because there was so much pressure on [Rob] but the thing is he knew it right from the start and we just couldn't figure out what we had wrong. Rob: To answer your question, I think the fact that we invested so much time is what kept me to try to want to figure it out. And in actuality because it was a spelling mistake, it's a good thing that we did switch, because I don't think I would have ever figured it out. Even though I actually verbally said, "Is it spelling?" That was just kind of going through my mind. But I never thought that it would be an issue because when I looked at the other teams' boards, I mean half of their cities that they wrote down were completely illegible. Amber: It's hard because when you're trying to work at something for so long, it's almost the purpose of getting finished quickly almost left our minds, and we just wanted to know... we just couldn't figure it out. It was like for our own good we just wanted to know what it was.
Reality TV World: How much time did you waste on "Sign It" before finally giving up and switching to "Navigate It?"
Rob: Over an hour and a half. Amber: A long time.
Reality TV World: During "Navigate It," Rob do you think you further hurt your chances when you led Amber and the team of Dustin Seltzer and Kandice Pelletier to the wrong location to find your next clue?
Rob: No, at that point it didn't matter because [Ozwald Mendez and Danilo Jimenez, Teri and Ian Pollack, and Eric Sanchez and Danielle Turner] had already signed-up for the first [charter flight]. Everybody else was on the second plane, which didn't leave until the next day. We could have taken 15 hours to do that challenge and it wouldn't have mattered. Amber: I mean we didn't know that at the time, but when we showed up at the airport it didn't matter.
Reality TV World: Did the facts that the wait for those charter flights to Argentina were so long and your second flight left three hours after the first give you some time to catch up on your sleep? Did you still like your chances of finishing the leg without being eliminated?
Rob: I mean we didn't think we were out of it at all because we were on the second plane. We had four other teams with us. So I figured if anything all we had to do was beat one of them. You know, we ran into some bad luck when we came out of the airport. We didn't have a cab. The reason we didn't have a cab was because our camera guy got held up and had to go through customs -- which is a completely random thing that all the teams have to deal with -- so that was just bad luck... Amber: It was just bad timing. Rob: ...that our guy got pulled for customs and had to get checked, where the other teams didn't. What it came down to, we got to the final Roadblock and we still had a chance. What's frustrating is that that final Roadblock was a needle in the haystack type Roadblock that was just based on luck. There wasn't any skill involved with it... Amber: It wasn't strength. It wasn't skill. Rob: ...it didn't work out for us. Amber: It's kind of frustrating when you go out on something that's just about luck. You can't really say, "The reason why we didn't win is because I failed at this challenge." It was just because he couldn't find a stupid letter in a bag. It's kind of frustrating.
Reality TV World: Do you think that Roadblock was a fair challenge?
Rob: I mean it's fair in the fact that it's fair for everybody. Everybody had to do it, you know? So it's 100% fair.
Reality TV World: Amber, were you surprised when Charla and Mirna believed you had found the next clue when you lied to them along the Beagle Channel?
Amber: No, I wasn't [surprised] because they're very stupid (laughing). I think there are some teams that wouldn't have fell for it, but I knew that [Charla and Mirna] would fall for it because they're so frantic and the way they race is just so crazy and all over the place that any information they get they just suck right in and don't even think about it. Rob: It's funny because afterwards watching the show last night, you see Mirna saying that she didn't fall for it. But that was clearly in the interview she did after the leg was over. Amber: And they went down and searched for the clue for 20 minutes.
Reality TV World: Rob at the post office, how long were you looking for the letter before Charla and Mirna arrived? It didn't appear like you had the long lead that you should have had given Charla and Mirna's shuttle boat was supposed to leave 20 minutes after yours.
Rob: It was a lot quicker than it should have been. What happened was -- I don't want to sit here and play "poor me" -- but we were on the boat and the boats were supposed to be 20 minutes apart. We had the second to the last boat [along with Uchenna and Joyce Agu]. All the other boats went, and they're going very fast to the island and it takes a certain amount of time to get there. Well our boat had additional cameramen with additional equipment on it, which wasn't really fair. Our boat was literally chugging along, to the point where one of the security guards actually pulled up in a boat next to us and said, "What are you guys doing?" Amber: [He said] "Why are you going so slow?" Rob: And we're saying, "This is as fast as it will go." So instead of actually having a 20 minute lead over Charla and Mirna... Amber: I think we had about five minutes. Rob: Not even five minutes. Amber: And when we were blown away by that. When [Charla and Mirna] showed up, we were shocked because we thought, "At least we have 20 minutes before the other team gets here." And here, because our boat took so long... It's just one of those things where we had a really bad leg. Nothing was going our way.
Reality TV World: Considering the tone of the letter they penned for Uchenna and Joyce, did you think Susan and Patrick's letter to you was mean spirited and inappropriate?
Rob: Funniest thing about it is, when we read the letter, Amber and I had no idea who Susan and Patrick were. We actually had to come home and look it up on the Internet because it just blew our minds. We got this letter, and it was a mean-spirited letter... Amber: We were like, "Who?" Rob: We went back and were like, "Oh yeah, they're very bitter from [The Amazing Race 7 when they finished eighth to Rob and Amber's second]." It didn't really surprise me. It was rude.
Reality TV World: How far behind Charla and Mirna were you?
Rob: About 10 or 15 minutes. Amber: It wasn't a foot race at all. They finished before we even started reading our letter.
Reality TV World: Amber, what did you think of the third leg's Roadblock at the fishery? Why do you think you did so much better than some of the other teams?
Amber: Honestly, I think just the fact that I wasn't being a girly-girl in a way, the fact that everybody else was getting really grossed out, and they're scared and everything that goes on with it. I was just in a zone where I knew that we were a little bit behind and when I saw Danielle was doing it I was like, "Rob I can do this. I want to do it." Honestly I thought it was kind of fun. I was laughing the entire time. It was difficult. It was very hard, they said there were 80 fish or something like that in there. Some of them weighed 15 pounds, but it's just something I'll never do ever again. I think the fact that I had a good attitude about it and I was just having fun with it, I think that's what really helped me. It kept me focused and I ended up doing pretty well at it. I impressed myself (laughing).
Reality TV World: During that leg of the race, you also worked together with Eric and Danielle. Where did that relationship come from?
Rob: It was just a spur of the moment thing. In actuality what happened was Amber and I -- it didn't show this -- but Amber and I left a lot earlier than Eric and Danielle from the challenge. We stopped and asked for directions, and the guy told us it was four hours away. Well a four-hour drive can either make you or break you in the race, so what we did was we actually turned around and went back to the fishery and I had Amber read the clue again. Not that I didn't trust her, but I wanted to make it 100% sure she had it right. Amber: Before we drove four hours in the wrong direction. Rob: As we're pulling out, Eric and Danielle were behind us and [Amber and I] were looking on the map and we couldn't find Petrohue. So I stopped to see if [Eric] knew where it was, and he did know where it was. And we were able to find it on our map, so it worked to our advantage in that situation.
Reality TV World: It seemed like you guys always had another team around. Was having another team around part of your All-Stars survival plan?
Rob: We always said that an alliance really doesn't have any place in this race. You know it's you against the course and everything. But at the same time you have to beat at least one other team at the end of the day... at the end of the leg. So if you have one team with you, it's kind of like an insurance policy. As long as you can outrun whoever you're with at the end, then you'll be alright. You know that you're never alone unless you're way out in front. But if you're alone in the back, it's not good.
Reality TV World: During the first leg, you held the shuttle for Ozzy and Danny at the airport. Rob you joked that it was "the first kind gesture I've made." Were there any other "acts of kindness" you performed during All-Stars that went unaired.
Rob(laughing with Amber): No. When I get into these situations on these shows, my competitive nature takes over, and I think that's what it is. Like last night, Mirna crying, "I can't believe Amber lied to me." It's like are you kidding me? Have you watched any of the shows we've been on in the last five years? You can't believe it? We're gonna do what it takes to win.
Reality TV World: During the second leg of the race Rob you called Eric out when he went ahead of the other teams in-line at the ticket counter. When Amber defended Eric, a little squabble between you two ensued. Rob, do you still think Amber was wrong and she should have stuck up for you?
Amber (laughing): Yes he still does [think I was wrong]. Rob (laughing): Life will never be the same I tell you. No, you know it's just one of those situations where she's speaking on impulse and I was trying to do something to rile [Eric] up. After the fact [Amber and I] talked about it and we both realized what the other was trying to do. Amber: Sometimes it's hard for me to separate competition from real life. You know what I mean? And when you're out there, people don't realize it's not just a competition but that some of it's real life. You're natural feelings come out and natural things come out, and since we were in a competition, I probably shouldn't have said what I did. I kind of lost track of what we were doing... Rob: We're working on it... she'll be tougher on the next show (laughing).
Reality TV World: Do you recognize that part of your Race success might have come from the fact that your fame seemed to make it more likely that strangers would buy you maps or drop everything they were doing to help you or do you really think that had nothing to do with your success?
Rob: Well initially the first time around it definitely helped. As far as strangers buying us maps, we asked. Other teams didn't ask. We had to asked literally 20 people before we actually got somebody to do it. Amber: The people that bought them for us didn't know who we were. I think the first race it definitely helped us. We'll totally admit to that. But the second race, I don't think we had any help as far as our fame goes. Rob: I think the reason why Amber and I were so successful the first time we ran the race and all the reality shows and in everything we do really is because we're not afraid to take chances and take risks. Because we do that, we put ourselves out there and there's a possibility we could fail -- like we did last night -- but at the same time, that's what will help us to get to the end in a lot of these things. More often than not we're going to succeed, rather than fail, by taking the chance. We make our own fate, basically, instead of just standing back and letting it come to us.
Reality TV World: Was there anybody you were surprised to see or not see participating in All-Stars?
Rob: Christie should have been there [The Amazing Race 5 runner-ups Colin Guinn and Christie Woods]. I remember watching their season and thinking that they were great, great racers. Amber: When we were talking -- before we actually got to the starting city [for All-Stars] -- Rob and I were predicting what teams we thought should be there. And we were saying if [Christie and Colin] were there, they'd definitely be tough to beat. Rob: As far as all the people [on All-Stars], they all deserve to be there. Clearly Mirna's there for the drama, which she, you know, delivers. Amber: Oh so well... Rob: Charla's a sweetheart... she's just [too] abrasive even for me.
Reality TV World: How was returning to The Amazing Race different than returning to Survivor?
Rob: There was definitely some apprehension going back to The Amazing Race again, because of circumstances... Amber: What happened the first time. Rob: ...the first time around. But at the end of the day, we considered it a real honor that CBS asked us to compete on the All-Stars. Being on the All-Stars of Survivor... Amber: We're the two luckiest people. I mean, honestly, there are so many people who would die to be on one of the shows that we've been on. The fact that we've got to do Survivor and The Amazing Race -- both twice -- it's a pretty spectacular thing we've been able to do.
Reality TV World: Most of the other teams considered you guys as their major competition. Who did you consider your biggest competition and why?
Rob: It's tough to say because we never really considered that until we got all of these questions today in all these interviews. At the time, we were just really concerned with ourselves. We were running our own race against the course. Amber: A lot of times it's not the other teams in the competition that get you knocked out of the race, it's you yourself messing up in the course. Rob: Bad luck. Amber: Or bad luck. I think some of the teams realize that, but I think some of the teams don't. And the teams that don't realize that kind of help you advance in the race because they get distracted by the other teams, and that's what makes them do badly. Rob: I mean look at [John Vito Pietanza and Jill Aquilino]. What I thought would be a very, very strong team made one wrong turn and they're the first team eliminated. So as far as a pure competition show, the race doesn't have what I think Survivor has. But it's still a great show... Amber: The competition is the course. It's not the other teams.
Reality TV World: Who would you like to see win?
Rob (laughing with Amber): No one. Honestly, we know who won because we were at the finish line. But you know what, everybody else who's left in the race, we wish them all good luck. They beat us, and you know what, we can't really say anything that. Amber: Right, they beat us, so... Rob: We were humbled by it.
Reality TV World: Are you living out in Vegas or back in Pensacola now?
Rob: We're all over the place. We're going back to Pensacola tonight actually to hang-out for a little bit, and then we have a new project coming up starting pretty soon, which you will be hearing about soon.
Reality TV World: You can't elaborate on that a little bit more?
Rob: I'm sorry I can't. We're still in contract negotiations and what not, but it will definitely be huge.
Reality TV World: Any plans on doing another season of your Fox Reality Rob and Amber:Against the Odds show?
Rob: That's a possibility... Amber: It's something we just need to wait a little bit longer to figure out what's going to go on with that but it's a possibility.
Reality TV World: Rob, how about Sci Fi Investigates, is that coming back for a second season?
Rob: No, that was a one-track pony (laughing). That was actually a fun experience.
Reality TV World: A couple of months ago, you told OK! Weekly you were starting to think about starting a family, any new news on that front?
Rob: No. We're still thinking about it.
Reality TV World: So Rob, what do you think about the Red Sox chances this year?
Rob: I think they spent a lot of money on [Japanese import Daisuke Matsuzaka], I hope he can throw. Amber: He better be worth it. Rob: But they're making some moves. And you know what? I was happy the [New England Patriots] made a couple of moves over there too. I think the Sox will do well this year. I think they'll do real well. Amber: He says that every year though. Rob: Yeah but I think if they actually get their cards lined up correctly they have a real shot at repeating [their 2004 World Series Championship]. I'll definitely be up in Boston for some games this summer. Amber: Hopefully we'll get to make it to more games this year.
Reality TV World: We just learned that you guys will be throwing out the first pitch at a game for The Trenton Thunder -- a minor-league team of the New York Yankees -- on May 3. What the heck is a Sox fan doing throwing out a pitch at a game in the heart of Yankees country?
Rob: Let me tell you something, I'll be sporting my Sox cap... no doubt about it.