The brains behind CBS's new reality show The Amazing Race (debuting tomorrow night at 9 pm/ET) have no problem admitting that one of the reasons they hired New Zealander Phil Keoghan to helm the globe-trotting adventure series was because of his undeniable good looks. "He actually is kind of cute," winks producer/co-creator Elise Doganieri. Clarifies her partner, Bertram van Munster: "He's actually gorgeous."
Like any self-respecting TV heartthrob, Keoghan scoffs at the hunk label — insisting that Race required much more than chiseled features and a killer smile. "Don't underestimate how difficult this show is to make," asserts the seasoned TV host, whose credits include the internationally distributed Keoghan's Heroes and the now-defunct chatfest Fox After Breakfast. "This was not a gig where you get ready in a trailer and have people running around putting powder on your head."
Hmm... is Keoghan suggesting that another reality frontman has a cushy job like that? Maybe, say, Survivor's dimpled cad Jeff Probst? "I don't think his gig is easy either," he concedes. "But that show and this show are different." Indeed they are. While both feature numerous mental and physical challenges as well as a $1 million prize, Race pits 11 teams of two against each other in a 30- to 40-day worldwide race. And if the former residents of Palau Tiga and the Outback thought they suffered from sleep deprivation, Keoghan says it's nothing compared to what he and the show's 22 contestants endured.
"We didn't sleep," he sighs. "We averaged maybe two-and-a-half hours a night. When these people started racing, they didn't stop. They were dead serious about getting from Point A to Point B as quickly as they could." And as Doganieri explains, Keoghan was right in the thick of the action the whole time. "Phil was doing the race with everyone else," she explains. "He would wake up in the middle of the night and go."The real draw of Race, however, won't be Keoghan — or so he says. "Like Survivor, this show is not about the host," maintains the charismatic thrill-seeker, who, sadly, is married with child. "It's about the contestants."