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Mike White felt "like a traitor" for competing on 'The Amazing Race'


By Christopher Rocchio, 02/16/2009 

Mike White is an unabashed fan of reality television -- but he's also a Hollywood actor, writer, and producer, which made him feel a bit like Benedict Arnold when he decided to compete on The Amazing Race 14.

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"You feel a little weird as a writer of scripted television for many years to say you're a fan of reality TV. You feel like a traitor," White told The Los Angeles Times in a Saturday report.  "But I am a total fan. There are life lessons that can be derived from reality television. It was a... blast." 

White -- whose Hollywood background includes writing and producing credits on Fox's short-lived Freaks and Geeks and Pasadena TV shows as well as writing Jack Black's Nacho Libre, The School of Rock and Orange County films -- calls himself a "weird reality fanatic" and The Amazing Race "scholar."

"It's definitely on the bucket list," White told The Times. "Do The Amazing Race, do a few movies, die happy."

White began his The Amazing Race journey during the Writers Guild of America strike in late 2007.

"I couldn't write," White told The Times. "I'd been watching [The Amazing Race] for so long, I was just like, 'I want to go on the show!'  I made a tape with a friend and sent it in. It wasn't like I tried to pull rank. We just sent in an audition and they called."

White's goal hit a casting snag when his original The Amazing Race partner -- filmmaker Jon Kasdan -- dropped out during semifinal callbacks, however casting director Lynne Spillman suggested a replacement in the form of White's 69-year-old father Mel.

"I thought I'd collapse," Mel told The Times when asked about his initial The Amazing Race expectations. "I thought when Michael said go, I'd fall down dead."

Spillman said Mike was someone who was doing The Amazing Race "purely for the love of the show and not for any kudos or fame" and described Mel as "fascinating, opinionated, complex and sarcastic" when she first met him at a party.

"I didn't realize he was Mike's father at first," Spillman told The Times.  "I tried to be cool, but I was so excited. Mike said, 'You gotta be kidding! He's the only person I'm not funny around.'"

The father and son team was subsequently cast for The Amazing Race 14, which wrapped filming in November and premiered last night on CBS.

"To be perfectly honest, I'm competitive. I wanted to win," Mike told The Times.  "As much as my dad is spry for someone who's almost 70, he is still 20 years older than the next-oldest person on the show."

As for Mel, the outcome of the competition was apparently second to spending time with his son.

"I couldn't pay for what The Amazing Race did for me, to have this time with my son," he told The Times.

(Photo credit CBS)


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