×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Race to mimic success of ‘Amazing’ never ends

Road to the Emmys 2012: Reality Competition

Many have tried to imitate CBS’ “The Amazing Race,” which has won eight Emmys for reality competition, and many have discovered it’s no easy task.

Roush says of the show that, so far, has visited 82 countries: “The reason it wins so often is because of its scope and scale. People who make (reality) television understand what an impossible task it is to pull off something like ‘The Amazing Race.’ Voters look at it and go, ‘How can they pull that off every year?’ ”

Even the man who mapped out “The Amazing Race” is a bit taken aback by its endurance.

“When I presented it to CBS, I’d prepared eight seasons, thinking they would only do one,” remembers van Munster of the globetrotting reality series that premiered on Sept. 5, 2001. “Then, of course, the horror of 9/11 happened, and we thought nobody would ever travel again. I thought that would be the end of the show.”

In the summer of 2006, NBC’s “Treasure Hunters” charged teams of players with solving puzzles throughout the U.S. and Europe for a $3 million prize; last summer, ABC’s “Expedition Impossible,” exec produced by Mark Burnett of “Survivor,” found teams weathering challenges in Morocco for $50,000 and a Ford Explorer.

Currently, Bravo’s spicing up its reality slate with “Around the World in 80 Plates,” a cooking competition that follows gourmet chefs around the world as they compete in famous restaurants. Show is produced by Magical Elves, with Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz as exec producers.

On June 24, TNT will make its first foray into the reality competition space with “The Great Escape,” where teams compete to be the first to break out of confined locations like Alcatraz and the USS Hornet. The series is executive produced by “Race” co-creator and exec producer Bertram van Munster, along with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

Even the network that already has a “Race” isn’t immune to knockoffs.

“There’s a ton of shows that come in here every day where I hear ‘It’s Amazing Race mixed with X,’ ” says CBS alternative programming executive VP Jennifer Bresnan. “But nobody does it better.”

Perhaps that’s because while others have looked to the series for inspiration, “Race” has kept forging ahead, concerned only with topping its own gold standard.

“We work so incredibly hard to keep the show fresh,” says host Phil Keoghan. “You never see the same thing twice. We never repeat places. Just wait until you see the next season.”

It wasn’t, of course. The tenuously timed first season did struggle in the ratings, averaging a modest 8.8 million viewers, but strong critical buzz helped keep “Race” running.

Now, nearly 11 years and 20 ambitious seasons later, “Race” not only ranks among TV’s longest-running reality shows but is its most decorated. Bravo’s “Top Chef” cooked up a surprise Emmy victory in 2010, but “Race” reclaimed the prize last year.

In fact, CBS’ beloved Sunday night hit now stands as one of the most golden series in any genre. Only Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” which has won nine sequential trophies in variety, music or comedy series, has had a more impressive streak.

“Certainly,” says John Leverence, senior awards VP for the TV Academy, “the run that ‘Amazing Race’ has had is of historic proportions.”

Road to the Emmys 2012: Reality Competition
Sugar spices skeins | Runners-up run up to series stardom | Music not the food of Emmy love | Race to mimic success of ‘Amazing’ never ends | A contending blend | Why we watch
>

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Samsung Makes Bid to Keep Viewers

    Samsung Makes Bid to Keep Viewers From Skipping Fox Ad Breaks

    Fox is hoping to knit together the seconds-long divide between a TV program and the commercials that support it. During ad breaks for a few football broadcasts, tomorrow’s run of the Emmys and Wednesday’s season premiere of “The Masked Singer,” the network will kick off ad sessions with special show promos that display artistic renderings [...]

  • Patria

    HBO Europe Unveils ‘Patria’ Footage to Captive San Sebastian Audience

    SAN SEBASTIAN — Amid large expectation, HBO Europe has revealed first footage giving a first sense of tone and pace of its Spanish original series “Patria.” A packed-to-overflowing press conference on Saturday morning at the San Sebastian Festival can be read as one sign of the potential popularity of the eight-part series. The panel sneak-peek [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • Peter Weber and Mike Johnson

    'The Bachelor's' Mike Johnson on Diversity and New Leading Man Peter Weber

    ABC named its newest star of “The Bachelor” this week, officially making Peter Weber the leading man for Season 24 of the long-running dating show. Social media backlash ensued following the announcement due to ABC’s selection lacking diversity, yet again. Since the dating franchise began in 2002, there has been only one “Bachelorette” of color [...]

  • ABC Studios Logo

    ABC Studios Head of Alternative Fernando Hernandez Exits

    ABC Studios’ head of alternative Fernando Hernandez has departed from his post at the Disney-owned television studio, a source familiar with the situation told Variety. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news. Hernandez’s exit follows an executive shuffling at the top in recent months that has included the departure of Amy Hartwick, ABC Studio’s head [...]

  • Rob Cowan, Greg Silverman'The Conjuring 2'

    Greg Silverman’s Stampede, School of Rock Team for Unscripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Former president of Warner Bros. Pictures Greg Silverman is partnering with School of Rock through his content creation company Stampede. The collaboration with the music school will create exclusive content, starting with the development of an unscripted series.  School of Rock operates a network of performance-based education franchises that offer students of all ages guidance [...]

  • TV Roundup: Erica Durance Reprises 'Smallville'

    TV News Roundup: Erica Durance Reprises 'Smallville' Role in 'Arrowverse' Crossover

    In today’s TV news roundup, Erica Durance reprises her “Smallville” role in the CW’s annual “Arrowverse” crossover, and Showtime shares with Variety an exclusive sneak peek at the return of “The Circus.” FIRST LOOKS “2020 is the most important election of our lifetime,” Alex Wagner says in a new trailer for the fourth season of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content