Soap Opera Weekly: Even though the “Family Edition” wasn’t the success you had hoped for, our hats are off to you for trying something different.
Bertram Van Munster: It sounded better on paper then it was in reality, I guess. It sounded like it could make sense. It’s very difficult to tell the story of forty people in forty-two minutes. Everybody gets less then a minute.
Phil Keoghan: In a way, we had to do something different. We had to try something different. Otherwise we would have been accused of just doing the same old thing over and over again. So we tried it. I think ultimately, we underestimated one of the major draws of the show. Even though we did provide great people, that wasn’t enough for them. They want to feel that they’ve gone somewhere very exotic that they wouldn’t necessarily go themselves but were still interested in seeing. And they want to see people like them go to those places. I feel that if there’s anything positive to come out of what we did with the Family Edition, it’s that we’ll get people who found the show for the very first time because it said “family.” I think we’re going to get them plus all the other people coming back. I actually predict that we’ll have the best ratings we’ve ever had.
Weekly: So what’s in store for the new RACE?
Van Munster: I am really, really psyched about it. The results look amazing. In a reality show, you can cast them, you can get all this stuff and you can dig as deep as you want, but they can blindside you, or they can come out 10 times better than you expected. And I think we got some real good characters. The challenges are really original and are pretty hardcore. The cast is so good that I said, “Whoever gets eliminated, it doesn’t matter, because we’ll still end up with great [finalists].” Because sometimes you think “Oh God, if these guys get eliminated, I am ending up with some weakness here and there.” I never want anyone eliminated because we always put so much time in getting them in the first place that I’m always very sad when they go, but in this case whenever someone gets eliminated, it won’t damage the quality of the show, because the entire cast is marvelous.
Phil Keoghan: Well, people always ask, “What makes this season different from all the other seasons?” The show is the same, the format is the same, the premise is the same — what makes it different is the people. You really don’t know what you’re going to get until you roll the dice. Even though you’re holding the cards in your hand, you don’t know how they’re going to play out. You just do not know. People are going to audition and you see certain things in them that you think are telegenic and are going to make great story and for great television, but it’s really not until you play those cards in this race that you get a clear idea what this is going to be like. There’s a huge amount of change that occurs. As much as everything is planned and locked down as much as possible, there’s also a gamble out there. “Is this team going to play out the way that they say they’re going to play out?” “Is there really an issue going on between this person and that person?” There’s a tremendous amount of excitement in that because it is so unpredictable.
Weekly: In the last adult race, some players, like Rob in particular, played by the rules but found ways to turn the race on its ear a little bit. Have you done anything to prepare for that this time, or don’t you mind if that happens?
Van Munster: No, we did not. Rob played a great game, no question about it. But there were times where he started to combine SURVIVOR with THE AMAZING RACE (laughs). And I said, “Dude, if you’re gonna do that, then you’re gonna lose the race.” But he played very, very well. Rob and Amber were just absolutely fantastic for the race, there’s no question about it. They were very, very shrewd and very gung-ho.
Weekly: In the last race we saw the Weavers become ostracized from the rest of the teams. That’s the first time we’ve ever seen such negativity felt towards a team by the others. Do you experience any of that again in this race?
Phil Keoghan: Not in quite the same way. That was a pretty out-of-the-ordinary situation. Again, not something we anticipated, quite frankly. We didn’t see that coming. I was very surprised by that. When I felt they had knocked the wind out of their sails and they just didn’t wanna go on, I made a point of talking to them and saying, “Hey guys, wake up. This is a great opportunity, don’t throw this away.” I get so many e-mails from people who are so desperate and so keen to be on the show and you wish that you could give everybody a chance, but of course you can’t. So if I feel like any team is not fully appreciative of or not completely committed to being in the race, then I feel like I have to say something. Like, “Hey, are you fully aware of the opportunity that you have here? Don’t waste it. Go for it.”
Van Munster: It was very bizarre with the Weavers, because I couldn’t really see why, but the [other teams] wanted to just push them out of the game. They were always on the s— list with everyone, and I could never figure out why because they tried to play fair. It was very, very interesting. Do we have people trying to do similar things this time? Absolutely. They are absolutely going after one another. They’re all in it to win it.
Weekly: And so are you, from the sound of things.
Van Munster: Well we put our heart and soul into this race, I can assure you that. I wanna get the old RACE back and I want all of you to be howling in the living room. I want you to be exhausted at the end of every episode from just looking at it (laughs).