'The Amazing Race' host Phil Keoghan dishes about 'All-Stars'
By Christopher Rocchio, 02/16/2007
In the beginning, The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan admits he "wasn't so keen" on the idea of having an all-star edition for the long-running CBS reality competition series.
"Over a period of time, as we got more and more really good teams, it just seemed like [an all-star edition] had to happen," Keoghan told TVGuide.com in a recent interview.
And happen it will, as The Amazing Race: All-Stars is scheduled to premiere on Sunday, February 18 at 8PM ET/PT on CBS. But once the decision was made to have the series' eleventh installment be an all-star edition, the process of creating it was only just beginning.
"The big question was, 'Who would we pick?' Because after 10 seasons we just had such a great range of teams," Keoghan told TVGuide.com. "I was asked to submit a list of teams, so I put forward 15 teams. Ten of those that were picked were on my list. That's a good sign."
He said the one team he didn't pick was Eric Sanchez and Danielle Turner -- who competed against each other on The Amazing Race's ninth edition -- because "I didn't think of that new combination, which actually is a really good one." However he was onboard with "the very fresh-faced innocent racers" -- like David Conley Jr. and his wife Mary, who finished sixth on the series' tenth season -- to "the old and cunning" Joe Baldassare and Bill Bartek, who finished third on the first season of The Amazing Race.
"I would say of all the racers ever on The Amazing Race, [Joe and Bill] are the biggest fans who are ex-racers," Keoghan told TVGuide.com. "I get emails from them all the time about whether they like my wardrobe, whether they like a particular eyebrow raise, if a certain team is bugging them... they aren't shy."
Also returning from The Amazing Race's first season are fourth-place finishers Kevin O'Connor and Drew Feinberg, and Keoghan said viewers will "be interested to see what happens to them."
"They aren't exactly the same size they were before, they've got a few years on them, they're married now," he told TVGuide.com. "They are a lot of fun to watch, and I think you'll get a kick out of seeing what's happened to them since [Season 1]."
Keoghan also elected to have Uchenna and Joyce Agu return, despite the fact they won Season 7. "It is an all-star show, so it is not about who won or who did really well or if you were eliminated early," he told TVGuide.com. "The whole premise of All-Stars wasn't to pick the best racers, otherwise we could have done all the winners and teams in the top three. The goals was to pick the teams that have earned the most attention over the last 10 seasons."
He described Uchenna and Joyce as the "most popular team" that has won The Amazing Race because "people fell in love with them." But Keoghan was quick to point out that "a balance of the heroes and the antagonists, and the people who are fun" was the goal when casting All-Stars. "You can only imagine how difficult it was to leave out teams like the bowling moms, the clowns and the gutsy grannies, Lynn and Alex... there are so many great teams."
Survivor veterans Rob and Amber Mariano, who finished second behind Uchenna and Joyce on Season 7, were also among those brought back for All-Stars. Keoghan said "a lot of people have already expressed that they are upset" about including Rob and Amber, but he thinks "there would be more of an outcry" if they were left off the roster.
"Either way, we knew it was going to create some kind of controversy, or at least get a reaction from people," Keoghan told TVGuide.com. "[Rob and Amber] had to be there. You can imagine that they elicit the same kind of reaction not just from fans, but from people who are actually in the race. People talk about them and what they think from the get-go."
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Echoing the comments of Bertram van Munster, The Amazing Race creator and executive producer, Keoghan said since the format and rules of the series remain the same, the only true twists come from casting. "The twists really come from the mix of people," he told TVGuide.com. "For David and Mary, the biggest reality fans that you could find, to be racing alongside all of their heroes, people that they love, that's part of the twist. Do they stay enamored with these people, or do they think, 'We are in this race, and we're all-stars and can win this as well.'?"
"They're are definitely some interesting dynamics. There are a lot of individual teams there, but there are also teams that have a history of following, or forming, alliances," Keoghan told TVGuide.com. "They've had a chance to see themselves on TV and reflect on what they did right or wrong. The question is, will they take the same approach? Will they try a new approach? You'll see it all, I promise you."
With All-Stars taking the racers to Africa, South America, Europe and Asia, Keoghan said "we've got a great course lined up."
"We're wanting to push things a little harder because they've done it before," he told TVGuide.com.
Keoghan said he thinks the challenges on All-Stars "are definitely more difficult," but added "we never take it easy on them. Every challenge that we've put on any show has been really designed to test people."
"Cars will break down, things will break down, and people will break down... people will miss flights," Keoghan told TVGuide.com. "Some interesting things beyond our control will happen."