TMCNet:  Amazing teams (TV hosts, ex-US G.I. and wife make up RP teams in TV

[October 01, 2007]

Amazing teams (TV hosts, ex-US G.I. and wife make up RP teams in TV

(Business World (Philippines) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) After months of speculation, the new batch of contestants for the 2nd season of the hit reality television show The Amazing Race Asia was announced last Wednesday, with two Filipino teams making it to the final cut.

In a kickoff party at the posh Indochine bar at Clarke Quay, Singapore, cable TV channel AXN, together with co-sponsor Caltex, revealed the 10 teams of two that will race around Asia and beyond in a quest to win $100,000.

From among 2,500 applicants, the team of TV hosts Marc Nelson and Rovilson Fernandez made it to the show, together with the husband-and-wife tandem of retired US Navy officer Henry Reed and his Filipina wife Terri.

The two teams hope to perform better than the two Filipino pairs who joined in the first season of the show last year. Real-life couple Ernie and Jeena Lopez, and best friends Aubrey Miles and Jacqueline Yu were the first two teams eliminated. Malaysians Zabrina Fernandez and Joe Jer Tee eventually prevailed over the nine other teams.

Mr. Fernandez admits that he always wanted to join the show, being an avid fan of the original American version since its first season. (The American version is on its 12th season.) He then asked Mr. Nelson to prepare an audition tape with him for the show.

"We got our friends to help us out, we even asked pointers from Ernie and Jeena [Lopez] on how to make our audition tape," Mr. Nelson told Filipino reporters in an interview in Singapore.

The best friends, who met four years ago through a mutual acquaintance, made their audition video with Apple's "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ad campaign as inspiration. They received a call from the show's producers last June informing them that they had been selected.

"We were both excited that we got chosen," Mr. Fernandez said. "But the hard part was we could not tell anyone that we got in," he added. The show has strict nondisclosure rules preventing any contestant from unduly providing details about the contest.

Mr. Nelson said his longtime TV co-host Dianne Castillejo has been asking him for weeks if he was indeed a contestant. "But I really could not tell her. I felt so bad because we have always been honest to each other. But I had to lie to her," he said.

Meanwhile, the team of Mr. and Mrs. Reed is the oldest team in this year's batch of contestants. Mr. Reed, 48, served as Senior Chief Petty Officer of the US Navy for 20 years. He has been married for 13 years to his wife, Terri, 44. They live in Cavite.

"We maybe the oldest team, but that does not mean we are already pushovers," Mr. Reed told reporters. "We have been together as a couple for a long time already, and I think that is an advantage for us," he added.

The couple keep themselves fit by jogging regularly together. Mr. Reed is a self-confessed fitness junkie, enjoying cycling and lacrosse, among others.

"We'll make sure our opponents believe that we are a lot nicer and likeable than we really are. Make no mistake, this is a race and we plan to destroy our competitors one by one by any legal means necessary," he said.

The Amazing Race Asia producer Michael McKay said the two Filipino teams fit the criteria for what they wanted for the second season. "We wanted bigger, bolder, better teams, and I think we have them all here in this season," Mr. McKay told reporters.

Definitely the contestants this season are younger and better looking than those of the first season. But Mr. McKay clarified that the producers were not after the looks, but the "personalities" of the contestants when they decided on the final 10 teams.

But this year's contestants all seem to be fit and svelte - wolf whistles could be heard as the teams were presented last week. Among those who received the loudest cheers were the team of actress and video jock Paula Taylor and brand consultant Natasha Monks from Thailand, as well as the lovely pair of French model Aurelia Chenat and Singaporean Sophie Teng representing Hong Kong.

The two other all-girl teams got their share of avid fans. Malaysian sisters Vannessa and Pamela Chong, as well as dancing Malaysian moms Diane Douglas and Ann Tan are out to make it two-in-a-row for Malaysia. But sure to try to stop them are the Indonesian team of model and actress Kinaryosih and her boyfriend, physiotherapist Brett Money; as well as the Hong Kong team of student Monica Lo and her boyfriend, event organizer Edwin Lo.

What makes the second season of the show more interesting is the participation of a Japanese team. After the first season, producers decided to accept audition videos from Japan. The brother-and-sister tandem of Daichi and Sawaka Kawashima made it, thanks to the song "We are Going to the Amazing Race," which they composed.

Finally, the Singaporean team of Collin Low and Adrian Yap makes history as the first team with a hearing-impaired contestant in the entire The Amazing Race franchise history. Mr. Yap, a business development manager, has a hearing disability. He communicates with Mr. Low, who has been his gym buddy for the past nine months, using sign language.

AXN General Manager Ricky Ow expressed confidence that second season of The Amazing Race Asia will surpass the popularity of the first season. He said the first Asian edition of the reality show attracted as many as 15 million viewers across the region.

A source told BusinessWorld that the second season, which was shot last July, brought the Asian edition outside the region. While last year the show went to Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, India, and the United Arab Emirates, the source said the second season will feature contestants racing in Korea, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

The second season reportedly had a pit stop in Manila, with contestants racing to find shoes and fix bicycles under the Carriedo Station of the LRT Line 1, along Avenida. The producers declined to confirm or deny this information. "We cannot say anything on that," Mr. McKay said.

The second season of The Amazing Race Asia is set to begin next month. AXN has yet to announce the definite schedule of the premiere telecast. American born Chinese superstar Allan Wu returns to host the second season of the show.

Copyright 2007 Business World Publishing Corporation, Source: The Financial Times Limited

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