NBC Looking For Contestants For New Show Hosted By Bear Grylls

NBC has put out a casting call for a new reality show that promises to be quite an adventure. The unnamed show will be hosted by Bear Grylls of “Man vs. Wild” fame and features a large cash prize, although just how large remains to be seen.

The show’s format sounds vaguely familiar with the premise being that teams of two will be dropped in a remote location and will have to learn to exist in the wild while racing against others towards a finish line. The description indicates that the competitors will need to work together as a team, while maintaining their courage and determination, in order to avoid being eliminated. That seems to indicate that there will be distinct stages and challenges for the competition, not unlike CBS’s popular show “The Amazing Race.”

To audition for the show simply email the names of the two people on your team as well as the nature of your relationship, to bearshowcasting@gmail.com. The email should also include brief bios, occupations, contact info, photos and a note as to why you should be picked to be on the show. Contestants must be legal residents of the United States and 21-years of age or older on February 2013. A valid U.S. passport is also a requirement, which seems to indicate that this adventure will take place in a foreign country.

In the press release info that I received, the show is being billed as the “Ultimate Outdoor Adventure Competition.” If that sounds like it’s your cup of tea, than blast out that email ASAP. Now if only we can get a “Team Gadling” into the competition.

[Photo credit: Bear Grylls]

Why I hate The Amazing Race

I love TV travel porn. Turn on a little Rick Steves traipsing around Europe’s back doors, Ian Wright of Globetrekker getting hamstrung in a Turkish hammam, or Anthony Bourdain slurping up Pho in Vietnam on No Reservations, and I am fixated. Hell, I’ll even watch the awkwardly matched foursome of Gwyneth Paltrow, Chef Mario Batali, food writer Mark Bittman, and Spanish actress Claudia Bassols just to see them thump melons and gobble down salty pig parts as they ramble through the markets and kitchens of Spain on PBS’s Spain…on the Road Again.

As much as I adore armchair exploration, however, there is one program that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth – the wildly popular CBS reality travel show The Amazing Race. If you’ve never seen it, the show consists of 11 two-person teams that fly around the world to compete in challenges, typically based on the local culture, such as roping a llama in Peru or driving a snowplow in Siberia. Since it began in 2001, “Race” has won eight Primetime Emmy Awards and has been franchised to include versions in Asia, Australia, and Latin America. In Israel, The Amazing Race is called HaMerotz LaMillion, which translates roughly as “Race to the Million,” because teams compete to win $1 million (or, in the case of Israel, one million new Israeli shekels).

In sum, the Amazing Race is an adrenaline-fueled travel adventure show beloved by millions of TV viewers worldwide. So why do I hate it? Here are three reasons:1. Travel shouldn’t be about numbers. “Five continents, 25 cities, and more than 40,000 miles” was the tagline of the final episode of Race’s Season 7. To many travelers, the dream is to rack up visited destinations like trophies. But should travel be boiled down to just numbers? Should quantity trump quality? There’s a certain hollow materialism to counting countries and treating cities like personal stats. It reminds me of a saying that was popular in the 1980s, “He who dies with the most toys wins” and leads me to my next point…

2. Travel is best when you slow down. Were every moment not recorded, would Race’s contestants even remember the difference between Peru and Chile or South Africa and Botswana? Filming for the Amazing Race typically takes place over one month, during which time participants travel to as many as a dozen countries. One of the shortest seasons, The Amazing Race 12, had contestants traveling 30,000 miles to 10 countries within 21 days. I understand that such a breakneck speed makes for great television – it is a race, after all. But I feel that The Amazing Race sends the wrong signal to travelers that it is okay to speed through airports and train stations and villages. Travel should be one of those activities where you allow yourself to slow down and take note of the details. Travel deeply not quickly.

3. Travel should, in itself, be the reward. The $1 million prize is why The Amazing Race gets tens of thousands of applications each season. Who can fault would-be contestants for wanting to race around the world for that kind of cash? Not me. Though, what if The Amazing Race made travel the reward? There are so many quotations about the benefits of travel that I could use here, but I actually think a recent tweet from Gadling friend and Twitter’s favorite nomad Andrew Evans (@wheresandrew):

In its defense, The Amazing Race bills itself as a “reality program” and not as a “lifestyle program,” the Emmy category under which most travel shows are classified. And, I also applaud Race for shining a spotlight on destinations that many travelers may never get to see (Burkina Faso!). But I fear I will never quite understand why a show that puts personality above place and discord above discovery is so beloved by travel enthusiasts. The Amazing Race stresses me out; give me Rick Steves any day.

The 19th season of The Amazing Race premiers on Sunday, September 25.

Photo from Wikipedia

Reality television show Expedition Impossible debuts in June

A new reality television show entitled Expedition Impossible is set to make its debut on ABC this June, pitting 13 teams of three against one another in what looks to be an adrenaline fueled competition through remote regions of Morocco. The show, which seems to combine elements of The Amazing Race and the sport of adventure racing, comes to us courtesy of Mark Burnett, the mastermind behind Survivor.

The official website for the show offers little in the way of information about the competition, although I would expect that it will be updated as we get closer to when it first airs. But in the trailer video, which you’ll find below, we see teams not only trekking through the desert, rock climbing, and kayaking rushing rivers, but also solving puzzles and working through other challenges. The video actually conveys an intensity to the race that isn’t present in other realty shows of this type.

For Burnett, this looks to be somewhat of a return to his roots. Back in the 90’s he produced an adventure race known as the Eco-Challenge which had coed teams of four racing against one another on foot, mountain bike, and kayak through some of the most remote places on Earth. Expedition Impossible seems to have a similar theme, although it is much more approachable for the masses than Eco-Challenge ever was.

So? What do you think? Is this going to be worthwhile adventure television for the summer months? I guess we’ll find out on June 23 when the first episode airs.

Mark Burnett casting for new adventure travel show

Mark Burnett, the famous television producer responsible for such reality shows as Survivor and The Apprentice, is looking for teams of contestants to compete in a new race that will send them to remote places, where they’ll solve problems and compete in various challenges.

The new show is entitled Expedition Impossible and seems to resemble The Amazing Race, at least on a cursory level. The program will pit teams of three against one another as they race through deserts, up mountains, and across rivers. In all, there will be ten legs to the race, with a new one being revealed each week, as the contestants battle it out for the, as of yet, undisclosed prize.

The casting notice can be read in full by clicking here, but in a nutshell, the three people on each team will need to have the entire month of April free to compete in this race. All competitors must also be 18 years of age or older, be a resident of the United States and hold a valid U.S. passport that is good through the end of 2011.

To be considered for the show, teams will need to send the following information to David 






Expedition Impossible sounds a bit like a project that Burnett produced back in the mid-1990’s called Eco-Challenge, which saw teams of four racing non-stop against one another through a remote course in some of the most challenging environments on the planet. It’s doubtful that this new show will come anywhere close to being as challenging as that race, but it sounds interesting for adventurous travelers looking to compete in a reality television show. I can’t wait to hear more details about the race.

Amazing Race Season 3, episode 4: New Zealand where kiwis are hard to stomp with bare feet

After Phil recapped that La Paz, at nearly 13,000 feet is the highest capital in the world, and that the feud between Starr & Nick and Christy & Kelly is still a plot twist, the teams headed for Auckland, New Zealand for the 4th episode of The Amazing Race.

Heading to Auckland from La Paz was a slam dunk. Everyone, including Dallas who said, “I don’t even know where New Zealand is,” was on the same flight after they searched out their options via the Internet at the La Paz airport.

After arrival, once they dashed out into the dark of night to find their specially marked cars, the pack dispersed between those who did not get lost and those who did. This was the first time the teams relied on their own driving except for the trip to the airport in Los Angeles.

All remembered to drive on the left side of the road, except for the few moments when one team or another had to double check.

Travel Tips from episode 4:

  • Use an Internet cafe at the airport if one is available to search for flight options.
  • If you need to use the Internet when at an airport but you don’t have a laptop, ask someone if you can borrow his or hers.
  • If you have a flat tire on a highway, there’s nothing wrong with waving down cars until one stops.
  • Use careful, methodical observation to find what you need for a successful journey.
  • Head flashlights make for handy gear.

Recaps and Cultural Observations:

If one is going to drive on the opposite side of the road from which one is used to, the middle of the night seems to be a good time to try it. As soon as the teams jumped into their cars, driving wasn’t the hard part, although Ty and Aja had a flat tire. I swear. Every season of The Amazing Race, one team ends up with a flat. I’m a bit suspicious.

Neither Ty or Aja knew how to change a tire. Aja did the sensible thing. Eventually, if you jump up and down, shouting and waving your arms enough, someone is bound to stop. A burly New Zealander came to the rescue changing the tire lickety split, and this duo, who are definitely NOT having the time of their lives–Ty thinks he should have a T-shirt made that says, “I’m with Fidel”–were on their way once more.

Where were they all teams heading, some with more luck than others? To Gulf Harbor where they were to untangle a Gordian Knot, a big ball of intricately wound rope that looked like a large cat toy. Inside the knot was a clue to the next destination. Those who did not get lost arrived at the dock in the dark. This is one place where head lamps came in handy.

Tina & Ken, on the ball and still working on keeping their own marriage knot tied, untied the knot ball quickly, thus were able to take advantage of the Fast Forward to Auckland’s Sky Tower, the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere.

Here their task was to don sky diving like attire and head up to the very, very, very top. The last part of the feat involved scaling up the building’s radio tower in order to retrieve a Travelocity gnome. Tina, afraid of heights, stilled her nerves by using common sense. There’s no way that the ropes and harness would let her down, she figured. She knew that she wouldn’t fall.

Of course not, that would make for very bad TV. The climb was not easy due to the winds that swayed the tower back and forth. What a rush, though.

As Ken & Tina are playing dare devils on the tower, everyone else either struggled to find the dock or finished the Gordian knot task to head to their next stop at the summit of Mount Eden, the highest point in Auckland and a dormant volcano. This time the teams could drive.

At the top were a slew of Maori warriors doing their warrior routines. The task was to match a drawing of ancestral markings of a Maori warrior’s facial tattoos with the markings of an actual Maori. Because Maori facial tattoos are like fingerprints, no two are alike, this highlighted one aspect of New Zealand culture.

Another task where head lamps came in handy for the teams that arrived here in the dark. Unfortunately, cultural sensitivity headed a bit south with a couple of players. Dallas said he hoped the warriors didn’t eat his mother and one of the divorcees, (they still look a like to me) said, “I’m going to have nightmare about these guys. They’re really scary.”

I wanted to rap each of them upside the head. Dallas’s mother, however, said, “You’re beautiful,” to her warrior and Terrence had the common sense to ignore Sarah when she yelled out, “kiss him, kiss him” after he made his match.

One of the funniest parts of this episode was when Christy & Kelly parked their car at the bottom of the Mt. Eden and ran up. As Andrew & Dan were driving up on the road, they saw the women running up the side and yelled out from their car, “Whey are you walking? It said to drive.” The women insisted they wanted to run. Whatever.

Poor Marisa & Brooke, who are as sweet as can be, had the hardest time getting ahead from the get go. These two have no eye for detail. They got lost out of the airport. At the dock, they ran right past the knot even though they arrived there in the daylight. At Mt. Aden, they had better luck which earned a hug from the Maori.

Next after Mt. eden came a trip to the top of City Life Hotel where they were to look for Travelocity gnomes through binoculars. Once the gnomes were located, they had to retrieve it from either their high or low places and head to the Road Block at the town of Te Puke.

In Te Puke, at Kiwi 360, a landmark that celebrates the kiwi, they could either head to the orchard to climb into a huge vat of kiwis, and in their bare feet, stomp enough of them to make 12 quarts of juice and drink a glass each or head to Blokart Heaven to assemble a blokart and drive it around the track three times.

A blokart is similar to a go-cart but uses a sail instead of an engine to propel it. (This photo is from the Blokart Heaven in Tauranga. There are blokart associations in New Zealand.

Kiwi stomping is hard work and unpleasant. According to each of the team members who tried, the vats were lined with sharp rocks and the kiwis were rough. Toni evoked images of the hilarious I Love Lucy episode when Lucy and Ethel stomped grapes.

Sensitive feet did Ty and Aja in so they headed to Blowkart Heaven to try that. So did Dallas & Toni. Neither of those teams checked to make sure the spout was plugged first before switching tasks. Terrence and Sarah, who figured out that detail first headed quickly to the Pit Stop.

By this time, long after Ken & Kim made it to the Pit Stop at a homestay sheep farm and golf course called Summerhill via helicopter, and Starr may have broken her arm when her blokart overturned for the second time, Marisa & Brooke and Ty & Aja struggled to finish their day in the dark. Even though Andrew & Dan had a heck of a time putting their cart together, they were shocked and over the top delighted to find out that they came in sixth just a little after Kelly & Christy.

As sheep parted at the end of the episode, there came Aja and Ty, exhausted and unsmiling.

“Thank the Lord,” said Aja raising her hands when they found out they were 7th. I was happy for them, but felt bad for Marisa & Brooke. I was rooting for these two during this whole episode because, of all the teams, they seem to have enjoyed themselves and each other the most.

Even when they were stomping kiwis in the dark, one of them said to the other, “I’m so proud of you.” No matter where they were, they seemed to relish the interactions with the local people.

At the Pit Stop, when they found out they were last team in, they teared up prompting Phil’s dad who was waiting with Phil to wrap his arms around them in a big, comforting hug.

Marisa & Brooke’s travel words of wisdom: Travel is a chance to find out more about each other and no one else in their lives has shared these travel experiences with them.

“No one can take that away. Brooke and I will be best friends forever,” said Marisa.

What Ken & Tina won: A 7-day trip to Rio de Janerio.