'Idol' trying to beat 'Race' to finish line

Don’t bet against “The Amazing Race.”

As the defending champ and four-time winner in the outstanding reality competition program category, the CBS crisscrossing, contemporary adventure series appears to have a lock with Emmy voters, who love the show’s fast-paced movement and lush global backdrop.

And this year, the show’s chief rival, the higher-rated “Survivor,” wasn’t even nominated in the category.

But “Race” exec producer Bertram van Munster might want to hold off building a new shelf for his bevy of Emmy statuettes. More than ever this year, Fox’s “American Idol” is in the hunt.

Not only is it TV’s dominant program, but “Idol” last spring staged the mega two-night benefit “Idol Gives Back,” going on location to Africa and New Orleans (taking a page from “Race” and addressing concerns that studio-based shows are at a disadvantage to address) — all for charity.

Emmy voters may also be aware that they have the power to break “Idol’s” dry streak. At 29 nominations and no wins, should it still come up empty this year, “Idol” will surpass “The Bob Newhart Show” as the most-nominated program without a victory.

The catch: “Idol” ended the season with its weakest round of contestants ever and saw some dips in viewership by season end.

That could potentially open the door for the three other nominees: “Dancing With the Stars,” “Project Runway” and “Top Chef.” The Bravo “Runway”/”Chef” duo could cancel each other out — and ABC’s “Stars,” while appealing to the older Emmy voters, might still suffer from the category’s bias against studio-based shows. (“Stars” earned the most noms of any nonfiction program this year, with eight.) That’s why “Race” can’t be counted out just yet.

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