"Boston Rob" Mariano is once again traversing exotic locales — but this time it's in pursuit of knowledge, rather than money.
The "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race" vet was on hand at the Television Critics Association summer press tour to promote his upcoming series, "Around the World in 80 Ways," at the History Channel panel. And according to Mariano, though the series bears a similar travel theme to his previous ventures, it differs significantly in its goal.
"There's no cash prize," Mariano explained. "Ultimately it's about the journey and the interaction between [costar] Dennis [Anderson] and I and the celebration of the history of the travel."
The series — which will premiere in the fourth quarter of 2011 — pairs Mariano with monster truck bigwig Anderson (known to rally-goers as the inventor of Gravedigger) in a quest to circumnavigate the planet using 80 different modes of transportation. Over the course of the season, that means getting around on everything from an ice-cream truck to a fighter jet to ostrich-drawn carts.
Along the way, the duo takes time out to explore the history and technology of the various vehicles. But the educational element notwithstanding, the entertainment factor will be high, the duo promises — much of it hinging on the pair dangling themselves over the jaws of danger in order to further their journey. Anderson recounted how, in San Paolo, Brazil, he and Mariano were forced to employ a window-washer conveyance to descend a skyscraper.
"The wind was blowing, and the last inspection I could see on it was like 1989," Anderson recalled. "The cables looked really rough."
According to Mariano, while the path across the globe was predetermined, he and Anderson were given great latitude in choosing their unconventional means of transportation.
"[History Channel was] very cool with letting us use our ingenuity," Mariano noted.
Finding new and unique methods of transportation wasn't the only challenge posed to the pair — there were also language barriers to contend with. Though, as Mariano, whose thick Boston accent permeated his turns on "Survivor" and "Amazing Race," and Anderson, who's from Norfolk, Virginia and sounds every bit of it, point out, that cut both ways.
"Rob couldn't understand me, and I couldn't stand him, but we couldn't understand anyone else," Anderson pointed out.
Quipped Mariano: "There might be a lot of subtitles."
History's panel also included a discussion of its upcoming six-hour docu-drama, "Vietnam in HD," which will air in the fall.