'Race' takes it to a new level
On Sunday, Sept. 27, CBS' " The Amazing Race," with host Phil Keoghan, returns for its 15th cycle. Once again, executive producer Bertram van Munster has to top what he's already achieved in his Emmy-winning reality show.
When he comes to work at "Amazing Race" HQ – conveniently located not far from the Los Angeles airport – he's reminded of the show's past successes. Reminders from earlier seasons are scattered through the offices, which share a building with an Asian airline.
There are props – including a furry suit with a carved wooden deer head, South American idols and several Travelocity garden gnomes (including two in a toy hot-air balloon) – and, piled in a hallway, a heap of gear that would make a travel store proud. The "War Room" that contains the map of this season's route is labeled a "Restricted Area," but van Munster can share a few hints.
But first, he shares some of the challenges. "I'm very grateful that we got the show picked up," van Munster says. "We had to cut a lot of money out of the budget, which I did, with the help of my good friends in this office. It hasn't taken anything away from the show.
"The show is very strong. I was just more careful in what countries I went to, how we spent the money. But it's a very rich show. It's quite spectacular."
While van Munster and his team set up the challenges – a particularly grueling outdoor one from the recent past reappears – but he insists the outcome is up to fate.
"We do not interfere," he says. "We don't control. We don't have them repeat things. We don't put words in their mouths – never, ever. If you don't get it (on film), you don't get it."