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Rob Mariano announces new $10 million 'Tontine' reality show


By Christopher Rocchio and Steve Rogers, 06/19/2007 

Although it doesn't appear to have a broadcast network yet, Rob Mariano has pulled the wraps off the "huge" new reality project he first began teasing in March.  Mariano has announced he will serve as the host of Tontine, a new reality competition show that will award one contestant with "the biggest cash prize in the history of reality television -- $10 million." 

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Tontine will follow 15 contestants, each of which is given "a special key" that unlocks a portion of the $10 million grand prize.  Over the course of 100 days, the cast will be put through a series of mental and physical challenges with the possession of the keys constantly up for grabs.  The series will conclude when only one contestant remains with all 15 keys in his or her possession, allowing them to unlock the $10 million prize. 

"I can't tell you everything, but I can tell you certain things about it," Mariano told the Buck County Courier Times during a May interview that proceeded today's formal Tontine announcement.  "It's a competition reality show that will last over 100 days on all seven continents of the world," Mariano boasted to the Times.  "[It's going to be] bigger than Survivor, bigger than The Amazing Race."

The show's format is based on its namesake -- "tontine" -- an annuity scheme in which a group of individuals share a common fund, with the money being awarded to the person who survives the longest, or in this case makes it to the end of the competition.

Casting for Tontine will begin Saturday, June 30 in Dallas and continue throughout the summer with stops in Nashville, New York, Boston, St. Louis, Minneapolis, San Diego, and Los Angeles.  The casting calls will be led by Mariano and Tad Frank, a casting director whose previous credits include Survivor, The Amazing Race and The Bachelor.

"We are looking for some really great game players who are also risk takers," said Frank.

Mariano, a 31-year-old Canton, MA-native, first burst onto the reality television scene in 2002 when he appeared as a castaway on CBS' Survivor: Marquesas.  Although he eventually finished only tenth on the show, Mariano -- who came to be known as "Boston Rob" -- became a "love him or hate him" favorite among Survivor viewers.  He returned for CBS' Survivor: All-Stars in Spring 2004, where he finished second but met his eventual wife, All-Stars winner Amber Brkich.  Since then, the couple appeared as a team on The Amazing Race's seventh season -- where they finished second -- as well as this past spring's The Amazing Race: All Stars, when they were the fourth team eliminated

In between their The Amazing Race appearances, the couple also starred in  Rob & Amber: Against All Odds, a Fox Reality network reality series that chronicled the couple's attempt to move to Las Vegas and let Mariano attempt to fulfill his dream of using their reality TV winnings to become a professional poker player.  Mariano also participated in Sci Fi Investigates, a six-episode The Sci Fi Channel reality series that attempted to investigate paranormal and supernatural phenomenon.

"My own personal experiences will provide insight for [Tontine] competitors to go for the win, no matter what it takes," said Mariano.

Following their The Amazing Race: All-Stars elimination in mid-March, Mariano told Reality TV World that he was in "negotiations" for "a new project... which you will be hearing about soon."

"It will definitely be huge," Mariano -- who cited "contract negotiations and what not" for his inability to offer more specifics -- said about the show at the time.

According to its casting information, Tontine is scheduled to begin filming in September 2007 and premiere in Spring 2008.



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