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‘Amazing Race’ host seeking Canadian contestants for his new CBC reality show
TORONTO (CP) – Fans of “The Amazing Race,” the award-winning travel-themed reality show, are accustomed to seeing a stern Phil Keoghan waiting at the end of every race to tell each team whether they’ve made it to the next round.
And now Canadians aspiring to compete on his new reality show, “No Opportunity Wasted,” can meet Keoghan face-to-face to try to convince him they’ve got what it takes to be contestants on the show.
Keoghan arrives in Canada this week to interview potential participants on “NOW,” as he calls it, a half-hour show that gives people the opportunity to complete a 72-hour, life-changing challenge that involves either conquering a lifelong fear or doing something to benefit others.
Based on his bestselling book of the same name, “NOW” has already had runs on U.S and New Zealand television. And now Keoghan, a native New Zealander who lived in Guelph, Ont., for four years as a child, is bringing the show to Canada where it will air on CBC-TV in October.
“It’s exciting to be able to do it in Canada just because the psyche of Canadians is such that they’re really going to get this,” Keoghan said in a recent phone interview from Los Angeles. “Canadians love underdogs, they love people who are taking on the impossible and trying to better themselves.”
As a New Zealander, Keoghan says he feels a real affinity for Canadians.
“I think the reason that New Zealanders and Canadians really connect is because Canadians are to Americans what New Zealanders are to Australians. There’s this little brother mentality that makes us fighters, and we don’t like to be told we can’t do something – we just like to head out there and do it.”
Starting in St. John’s on Tuesday, Keoghan will make stops in cities across Canada for eight days, ending up in Vancouver on May 16.
“I am flying across the country to meet people in person,” said Keoghan, who’s also the executive producer of “The Amazing Race.” “This is how I’ve always done it and I really believe this is the best way to do it, to meet people face to face.”
In each 30-minute episode, two challengers who don’t know they’ve been chosen will be surprised by Keoghan and asked to take on a “NOW” challenge. The show clears their schedules with bosses, families and friends.
Then the two challengers, total strangers with a common goal, work to complete a series of time targets to complete their challenge.
Keoghan says he’s proud to be making reality television that has some meaning and substance.
He was inspired to follow a more motivational career path, he says, when he almost drowned in a scuba diving accident at the age of 19. The near-death experience prompted him to make a list of all the things he wanted to do in life before he died.
“It was a real wake-up call to follow my life list – it was a real motivator,” Keoghan recalls. “In the beginning, at 19 years old, it was a very selfish list; it was everything that I wanted to do for me. Over a period of time following that list and turning that into a career, with maturity came the awareness that it wasn’t all just about me.
“Now what I want to do is try to help people, and I’ve seen ‘NOW’ help people. I get these e-mails from people telling me how it’s changed their life, and that’s huge.”
It’s not always easy, Keoghan admits, to get television executives to see the benefit in making reality shows that don’t humiliate people.
“I call them train wreck shows, and it’s much easier to sell them because they can be huge; they get huge ratings. But after people have driven by those train wrecks and watched them for a while, they want something else.”
“The Amazing Race,” Keoghan says, is an example of a reality show that offers a bit more substance as viewers take in cultures and countries they might never see in their lives. “NOW,” too, he says, offers something more.
“The biggest challenge in television, as a program-maker, is trying to make something that has some take-away, that actually gives the audience and the people who are on the show more than is taken from them to make a show,” he says.
“Any show that you make, there is a certain amount of exploitation that takes place with people who are in front of the camera; you take something from them to create entertainment. And sometimes the balance is so out of whack that these people walk away from these shows in a terrible situation where they’re demoralized … I’m not judging it, but that’s not real – ly what I want to make.”

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(CP) – Phil Keoghan, host of “The Amazing Race,” is in Canada for a week starting Tuesday to interview would-be contestants for his new reality show, “No Opportunity Wasted,” and to sign copies of his bestselling book of the same name.
A list of stops on his tour of Canada:
St. John’s, N.L.: Tuesday, May 8, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Chapters, 70 Kenmount Road
Dartmouth, N.S.: Tuesday, May 8, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Chapters, 41 Mic Mac Boulevard
Montreal: Wednesday, May 9, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Indigo, 1,500 McGill College Avenue
Toronto: Saturday, May 12, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Indigo, 55 Bloor Street West
Winnipeg: Sunday, May 13, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Chapters, 1,225 St. Mary’s Street
Regina: Monday, May 14, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Chapters, 2625 Gordon Road
Calgary: Tuesday, May 15, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Chapters, 9631 MacLeod Trail SW
Vancouver: Wednesday, May 16, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Chapters, 788 Robson Street