The Amazing Race to find the right ‘talent’ for reality TV
If you are a fan of reality TV then there’s every chance you’ve imagined yourself as contestant on one of the genre’s many shows. Maybe you’ve thought your singing ability could make you the next Australian Idol, perhaps your love of the outdoors made you feel like you could be the next Survivor or maybe you thought a childhood spent playing with table-tennis balls was worth $500,000. If The Amazing Race is your reality show of choice, your dreams of becoming a D-list celebrity could well be on their way to fulfilment.
Channel Seven recently announced that it will be producing an Australian version of the popular US reality series, giving a handful of Australians the chance to race around the world for a “massive cash prize”. The show has been running in the US for nine years in which time CBS has managed to pump out an impressive sixteen seasons, with a 17th due for broadcast later this year.
For those that haven’t seen the show, take the biggest scavenger hunt you’ve ever seen, add pairs of clueless tourists, some Big Brother-style 24/7 surveillance and the most stressful elements of travelling, mix them together and you get something that vaguely resembles The Amazing Race.
Hundreds of teams are likely to apply for this “opportunity” and if you thinking of throwing your hat in the ring, be aware that the 16-page application form provides would-be racers with more than a few hoops to jump through.
For starters, you’ve got to be willing to divulge some fairly personal information, including your weight, your relationship status and the names and ages of any children you might happen to have. If you’ve been arrested you have to provide full details and if you’ve ever hit someone “in anger or self-defence” you have to explain why you did it.
If the personal questions are a little pointed then the questions about your relationship with your teammate are even more so. “What is the worst experience you have had with your teammate?” doesn’t seem to be all that constructive a question and “What is the biggest disappointment you have experienced from your teammate? is not a whole lot better.
Of course it’s all about building a profile of you as a potential contestant and there are several questions within the application that will help the producers to narrow the field. For example, answering “no” to “I am available for 5 weeks between September and December 2010” is likely to see your application rejected before they even get to read your name. An answer of a disparaging nature to “What is your opinion of foreigners?” is equally likely to terminate your prospects of appearing on the show.
As pointed and personal as the application is, it’s the fine print that will determine how much people are willing to sacrifice in order to get their faces on TV. One section explains that applicants “agree to comply with all requests and directions given by the Producers” with a later paragraph insisting that such cooperation will be on a “twenty-four-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week basis”.
But if the desire to get your face on TV outweighs your desire not to be a Channel Seven pawn, it’s worth considering the contestant pool from previous versions of the show. For example, if the US version is anything to go by, the 11 teams are likely to cover a mixture of ethnicities, relationship types, ages and sexual preferences.
There will be an old married couple, a gay couple, the young female friends who provide eye-candy in the promos, a non-Caucasian team, a team of brothers or sisters, a father/son or father/daughter team and, being an Australian version of the show, a team of bogans. Tailoring your written and video applications to one of these combinations is likely to be the best route to the audition process.
But of course your application needs to be special in order to stand out from the hundreds of entries that Seven are likely to receive and it’s the video application that presents the best chance of catching the producers’ collective eye. You should try to engage with the viewer, convince them that the show would benefit from your presence and as the application form says, “personality counts!”
But if you want a serious advantage in making your application stand out then John Safran’s 1997 audition tape for Race Around the World is just about the best audition tape you are ever likely to see.
Not only is Safran aware that the producers need a way of labelling him but he uses his otherwise-annoying voice as a way of selling himself.
Having said that, Race Around the World did see Safran running naked through the streets of Jerusalem and placing a curse on his ex-girlfriend. Whether or not these sort of antics will be included in the “requests and directions” given by producers of The Amazing Race Australia remains highly unlikely.
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