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Meet the Families on 'Amazing Race 8'


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It's All in the Family on 'The Amazing Race 8: Family Edition'


'The Amazing Race 8: Family Edition' competitors are ready to travel the world.

It's all in the family for "The Amazing Race." CBS has revealed the lineup of contestants for "The Amazing Race: Family Edition," the latest incarnation of the two-time Emmy winning reality competition. This year, 10 four-member clans will trek around the world in a battle for $1 million. In the past, friends, lovers, spouses and/or coworkers have paired up, for better or worse, on two-person teams.

Hosted again by Phil Keoghan, "The Amazing Race: Family Edition" kicks off with a two-hour premiere September 27 at 9 p.m. As they race around the globe, the four-person family teams will be pitted against each other in a series of mental and physical challenges, presumably testing the bonds of sibling-hood, parent-hood, couple-hood, in-law-hood step-family-hood.

"Anytime you put a family of four together, you get interesting dynamics. It's a pretty humorous and explosive mix," executive producer Bertram van Munster tells USA Today. Also new this year is the addition of younger competitors.

The change of younger competitors meant some adjustments to the grueling "Amazing Race" schedule. First, there are fewer non-elimination episodes, and the teams only traveled about 30,000 miles total, less than half the 72,000 miles logged by contestants in season six. Less crowded competition sites were also chosen in deference to the kids.

Still, producers see the addition of children as a possible plus for the teams. "Kids have major advantages just by size," says van Munster. "They can climb through something with more agility, and they're very fast in a crowd."

Plus, they're also, well, childish, so amusing playground antics are likely to ensue. Nine-year-old Carissa Gaghan from Glastonbury, Connecticut, threw down the gauntlet on "The Early Show," on August 16 which introduced the competitors. "Either you'll be a zero or you'll be a hero," she told her fellow racers.

The family gimmick hopes to build on the show's record ratings last season. Fueled by the antics of "Survivor" couple Rob Mariano and Amber Brkich, the seventh installment of "The Amazing Race" averaged 12.5 million viewers a week. The show could also win its third straight Emmy in the Reality Competition category at next month's awards.

Here's a rundown of the teams:

  • Godlewski sisters from Des Plaines, Illinois

    Michelle (42), Sharon (39), Christine (37) and Tricia (26)

  • Weaver family from Ormond Beach, Florida

    Widow Linda (46) and her three children, Rebecca (19), Rachel (16) and Rolly (14)

  • Gaghan family from Glastonbury, Connecticut

    Bill (40), Tammy (42), Billy (12) and Carissa (9)

  • Black family from Woodbridge, Virginia

    Reggie (42), Kim (40), Kenneth (11) and Austin (8)

  • Linz siblings from Cincinnati

    Nick (24), Alex (22), Megan (21) and Tommy (19)

  • Rogers family of Shreveport, Louisiana

    Denny (46), Renee (42), Brittney (22) and Brock (19)

  • Schroeder family from New Orleans

    Mark (40), stepmom Char (39) and daughters Stassi (16) and Hunter (14)

  • Bransen family from Park Ridge, Illinois

    dad Walter (51) and daughters Elizabeth (25), Lauren (22) and Lindsay (20)

  • Aiello family from Mansfield, Massachusetts

    dad Tony (57) and sons-in-law Kevin (31), Matt ( 31) and David (26)

  • Paolo family of Carmel, New York

    Tony (52), Marion (52), DJ (24) and Brian (16)

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Reality TV World

Families Team Up On 'The Amazing Race 8'

by Steve Rogers


CBS announced August 16 the identities of the ten four-person teams who will compete on its upcoming "The Amazing Race 8: Family Edition" series. The 'Family Edition' will premiere on Tuesday, September 27 at 9 p.m. ET/PT with a special two-hour broadcast. Unlike the show's first seven editions, 'Family Edition' will feature four-person teams comprised exclusively of related family members -- including young children -- rather than pairs of contestants who have a more general "pre-existing relationship."

While lauded by CBS and "The Amazing Race's" producers, the initial announcement that the show's eighth edition would be changing its format so drastically was not universally embraced by 'Race' viewers worried that the eighth edition of the hit reality series would feature a "dumbed down" competition. Today's CBS announcement appears to at least partially confirm those concerns -- and also reveal that Lynne Spillman, The Amazing Race's longtime casting director, also at least somewhat shared them.

While the network won't confirm previous rumors that 'TAR8: Family Edition' did only visited North and Central American locations, the network did tell USA Today the teams travelled only about 30,000 miles (about half of the distance typically covered by the show's previous editions) and spent significantly more time visiting American locations.

Additionally, the inclusion of children -- some as young as 8 years old -- also resulted in the selection of "historically significant" and "more family-friendly, less-crowded" locations (which would appear to confirm the rumors that the race course was a big summer 'field trip' and 'family vacation' of sorts, with many of the course's locations being historical or educational in nature.)


'The Amazing Race' Host Phil Keoghan

However, the decision to mount an edition featuring four-person family teams did (for reasons unexplained) apparently result in one change that most 'Race' fans are likely to enjoy -- the inclusion of fewer non-elimination episodes. Like the show's skeptical viewers who endured years waiting for "The Amazing Race" to become a breakout hit, Spillman also admits to having been worried about the decision to so radically alter what had finally become a hit format.

"I was scared," Spillman told USA Today, explaining that she feared the casting so many family members and children would result in some "duds." Spillman continued, "But it was so much better than I ever thought. The people we ended up with were pretty adventurous and excited. From the kids' point of view, they were ready for anything."

Unsurprisingly, "The Amazing Race" executive producer Bertram van Munster stands by his original comments and still has nothing but positive things to say about the show's family edition experiment. "Anytime you put a family of four together, you get interesting dynamics. It's a pretty humorous and explosive mix."

van Munster also noted that although they might be more immature, the teams that contain small children (not all of them do) will also have at least one "major advantage" -- the kid's size. "They can climb through something with more agility, and they're very fast in a crowd," van Munster explained.


'The Amazing Race's' 10 competing families on 'The Early Show.'

In his interview, the producer also assured 'TAR' viewers that despite their concerns, the decision to include children didn't soften the competition up too much. While many of the teams appeared to get along well and help each other during the competition's first few legs, van Munster says that the teams were also simultaneously trying to "finesse" ways into misleading each other. Later, the competition reportedly turned more openly bitter, with teams eventually labelling "certain rivals as enemies."

While CBS' announcement also confirms that, as Reality TV World had reported at the time, "The Amazing Race: Family Edition" begins in New York City (specifically under the Brooklyn Bridge), it doesn't confirm any of the other locations that the show reportedly visited, nor the competition's rumored Niagara Falls finish line.

Instead, while offering no specifics, van Munster promises "miserable rain," "extreme dry heat," and the continued presence of the recently introduced yield route markers, which he states "will be more effective and more frustrating to people than (they've) ever been."

The ten family teams competing on "The Amazing Race: Family Edition" can be reviewed below.

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]The young ones will probably be good for a few laughs with the things that they say...about their parents, siblings or things in general!  I do, however, prefer to see adults doing the race.  JMHO

Have you watched previous races? I wouldn't say they had "adults" in all races. There were quite a few acting very childish. Laugh.

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Have you watched previous races?  I wouldn't say they had "adults" in all races.  There were quite a few acting very childish.  Laugh.

haha I agree.The kids may be more adult then previous racers.

The whole family thing prolly wont be that bad.

Besides the families with small kids prolly wont last long.

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'Amazing Race' tests families


"The Amazing Race" is going family style.

The eighth season of CBS' late-blooming reality hit, due with a two-hour opener on Sept. 27, introduces a new twist: Ten teams of four family members compete for a $1 million prize in a worldwide sprint.

Replacing the typical two-person teams, the "Family Edition" cast includes two groups of grown-up siblings, a dad with three sons-in-law and a widow with her three teenage kids. Though many are adults, half of the teams have at least one contestant younger than 18, and one Virginia family includes brothers ages 11 and 8.

Which is not necessarily bad. "Kids have major advantages just by size," says executive producer Bertram van Munster. "They can climb through something with more agility, and they're very fast in a crowd."

CBS pushed the family concept as a new wrinkle for the series, which took three years to become a breakout hit, scored its best ratings last spring and has won two Emmys as best competition-reality show.

No timid tykes

"I was scared," says casting director Lynne Spillman, who feared "duds" among family members or timid tykes. "But it was so much better than I ever thought. The people we ended up with were pretty adventurous and excited. From the kids' point of view, they were ready for anything."

Says van Munster: "Anytime you put a family of four together, you get interesting dynamics. It's a pretty humorous and explosive mix."

Initially, "it was great to see how well these people got along with each other" and offered help, even as they "finessed finding ways to mislead the other teams." Later, as the race got harder, teams became more "bitter" and clearly labeled certain rivals as enemies.

Geared for kids

The kid-friendly contest, which includes fewer non-elimination episodes, did require certain concessions: During the 30-day race, filmed mostly in July, teams traveled 30,000 miles, far less than the 72,000 traversed by teams on the sixth season. And more family-friendly, less- crowded locales were chosen.

After the starting line beneath New York's Brooklyn Bridge, the teams spend more time in U.S. cities where the focus is on historically significant sites.

Yet challenges are just as grueling, van Munster promises, and involve "miserable rain" and "extreme dry heat."

Fans will see just as many of those pesky "roadblocks" and "detours," while "yields," which force one team to stop racing for a period of time, "are more effective and more frustrating to people than (they've) ever been."


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Reality TV World

Meet the Family Teams On 'The Amazing Race'

by Steve Rogers

The Aiello Family ~ Mansfield, Massachusetts


Father and Three Son-in-Laws

Tony, the father, is a 57-year-old restaurant consultant and the father of three daughters. Kevin is a 31-year-old father of two who works in public relations and is married to one of Tony's twin daughters. Matt is a 31-year-old corporate project manager who is married to Tony's other twin daughter and also a father of two. David, married to Tony's youngest daughter, is a 26-year-old Rhode Island police officer who spent eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Black Family ~ Woodbridge, Virginia


Family of Four

Reggie, the father, is a 42-year-old high school teacher. Kim, the mother, is a 40-year-old fifth grade teacher. Kenneth, age 11, is entering sixth grade. At only 8 years old, Austin, the younger son, is the youngest contestant to ever compete in the series.

The Bransen Family ~ Park Ridge, Illinois


Father and Three Grown Daughters

Lindsay, the youngest daughter, is a 20-year-old Hope College student who is majoring in social work. Walter, the father, is a 51-year-old chief financial officer who has been married for 31 years. Elizabeth, age 25, recently obtained a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Illinois. Lauren, age 22, recently graduated from Hope College with a degree in communications and business management.

The Gaghan Family ~ Gastonbury, Connecticut


Family of Four

Bill, the father, is 40 years old and works in jet engine sales. Tammy, the mother, is 42 years old and works as a substitute teacher. Billy, age 12, is entering seventh grade. Carissa, age 9, is entering fourth grade.

The Godlewski Sisters ~ Des Plaines, Illinois


Team of Four Sisters

Michelle, the oldest sister, is 42 years old. Sharon, age 39, works as an insurance claim consultant. Christine, age 37, is a homemaker and mother of four. Tricia, age 26, is the youngest member of the team. All four sisters live within thirty minutes of each other and have traveled extensively together.

The Linz Family ~ Cincinnati, Ohio


Team of Siblings

Tommy, age 19, is a college student attending Miami University of Ohio. Megan, the only woman on the team, is a 21-year-old who also attending Miami University of Ohio. Nick, the oldest team member, is a 24-year-old currently working in sales and living Buffalo, New York. Alex, age 22, recently graduated from the University of Cincinnati and works as an emergency room technician.

The Paolo Family ~ Carmel, New York


Family of Four

Tony, the father, is a 52-year-old Italian immigrant and New York City sanitation worker. DJ, the oldest son, works in title report production. Marion, the mother, is a 52-year-old homemaker who thinks Tony lets his two sons get away with two much. Brian, the couple's other child, is a 16-year-old who is entering his senior year of high school.

The Rogers Family ~ Shreveport, Louisiana


Family of Four

Denny, the father, is a 46-year-old who is in the car business. Renee, the mother, is a 42-year-old boutique shop owner who also works as a beauty pageant trainer. Britney, a former Miss Louisiana, graduated from Louisiana State university and currently works in pharmaceutical sales. Brock, age 19, has graduated from high school and is entering college this fall.

The Schroeder Family ~ New Orleans, Louisiana


Blended Family

Mark, the father, is a 40-year-old architect. Char, the stepmom, is a 39-year-old public relations director. Stassi, a 17-year-old who is entering her senior year of high school, is Mark's daughter from a previous marriage. Hunter, Mark's son from the same previous marriage, is a 15-year-old who is entering ninth grade this fall.

The Weaver Family ~ Ormond Beach, Florida


Mother and Three Children

Linda, age 46, is an elementary school teacher and mother of three who lost her husband and children's father in an accident at Daytona International Speedway nearly two years ago. Rebecca, age 19, is the oldest child. Rachel, age 16, is a junior in high school. Rolly, age 14, says he's running the race for his father.

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