“The Amazing Race” is on an amazing Emmy kudo streak.
The CBS skein has won the award for reality-competition program three years straight, beating out megahit competition such as “American Idol” and “Survivor.”
Actually, “Race” is the only show to have ever won the reality-competition Emmy, which was instituted in 2003 as a result of the ongoing nonfiction TV boom.
The lockhold has been a source of frustration for “Race’s” rivals, particularly “Idol.” (“Survivor” won an Emmy in 2001, in the now-obsolete category of nonfiction program/special class.)
But “Race” benefits from how the reality-competition Emmy is chosen. Voters view just one episode — and viewers coming to a serialized reality skein like “Survivor” might not know enough of the competition’s backstory to be invested. “Idol,” meanwhile, never leaves the studio — making it less visually exciting.
“Race,” on the other hand, remains a visual adrenaline rush of contestants literally running from one global landmark to another.
“People see that what we do is different,” says “Race” exec producer Bertram van Munster. “It’s complex, a highly ambitious way of doing TV. We’re not static, we’re not sitting in one place. We don’t have complete control over anything that goes on in the show. We’re on the run nonstop.”
The three Emmy triumphs have cemented “Race’s” reputation as an upscale reality show (it’s also CBS’ youngest-skewing program). And the wins have helped keep the show — which has never been a ratings dynamo in the vein of “Idol” or “Survivor” — on the air.
CBS had yet to commit to a fifth edition of “Race” — and had moved the fourth edition out of the regular season and into the summer — when the show scored its surprise 2003 win. That Emmy recognition sealed the deal, helping resurrect the show, which enters its 10th edition this fall.
Van Munster says he’s now aiming for a four-peat, having entered an episode from the ninth edition where the “Race” contestants compete in Oman.
“That episode is very powerful,” he says. “I think it’s symbolic for what this series is.”