‘TMZ’ Duo to Compete on Next Season of ‘Amazing Race’

Production on CBS’ 27th Emmy winning race around the world began Monday morning on Venice Beach

Two of Harvey Levin’s most featured faces are going way beyond the “Thirty Mile Zone”.

Shevonne Sullivan and Kelly Berning (top photo), two personalities who dissect the day’s gossip on the syndicated “TMZ,” are running in the newest edition of “The Amazing Race,” debuting this fall.

The two front row talkers in Levin’s bullpen are part of a CBS cast that is very heavy on professional performers and media savvy duos. The cast includes dating news anchors (from an ABC affiliate), a team of paparazzi from South Beach, two street performers, and two former professional cheerleaders.

All eleven teams of two left on a race around the world for $1 million dollars from Venice Beach just after 9:00 a.m. this morning in a “start” that was open to the public.   Yes, a TMZ camera man was there on the beach too.

Host Phil Keoghan prepares to start

Host Phil Keoghan prepares to start “The Amazing Race 27” in front of fans on Venice Beach as Creator/Executive Producer Bertram van Munster leaves the shot on Monday, June 22, 2015. (Mikey Glazer)

Non professionals (read: fans) held signs with messages like “Read the Clue” and “The World is Waiting,” the first time the “Race” has had a publicly viewable start on the west coast.

No Home Field Advantage

[Editors Note: CBS is disclosing the first location and it will be published in media. If you do not want to be spoiled on the first location, or the first task, do not keep reading beyond this point…until September.]

Executive Producer Jonathan Littman and Creator-Executive Producer Bertram Van Munster in Marina Del Rey on Monday morning. Co-Creator/Executive Producer Elise Doganieri was already in Brazil. (Mikey Glazer)

Executive Producer Jonathan Littman and Creator-Executive Producer Bertram Van Munster in Marina Del Rey on Monday morning. Co-Creator/Executive Producer Elise Doganieri was already in Brazil. (Mikey Glazer)

The first challenge had teams pedaling a water bike across Marina del Rey to claim priority tickets to another famed beach, Rio de Janeiro. With the TMZ offices located in this same Marina del Rey vicinity, any advantage the TMZ team might have had was neutralized. All teams took cabs for the L.A.-based segment.

The nearly ¾ mile bike pedal across the Marina looked grueling. “I love this,” host and avid cycler Phil Keoghan told TheWrap after the teams were already enroute to LAX. “Here’s the thing. They go straight to the airport drenched like that. Now they have to sit on a plane and fly like that totally drenched. All I can say is I hope they go to the washroom and do a little washup.”

Keoghan has spent the last six months since the previous season of the “Race” wrapped production in Dallas working on a documentary about the 1928 Tour de France. That includes him recreating that race by riding a bike from 1928 himself. “No gears, a bike that weights twice as much a modern bike –  almost killed me,” he said.

Open Season

This public start and cast reveal is part of a continuing social media evolution by CBS.

Until recently, CBS had always vigorously protected cast details until the promotional campaign kicked off a few weeks before the show’s premiere. Last month, CBS revealed the new cast of “Survivor” on a live broadcast before they flew to Cambodia to begin production. With Periscope, Instagram, Twitter, and CBS’ own social media team welcome and active at Monday morning’s starting line, the network continues embracing and leveraging social media at a point in the annual cycle when these shows would otherwise not be newsworthy.

RIGHT NOW: #TheAmazingRace starting on Venice Beach. (Mon 9:08am)

A video posted by Mikey Glazer (@mikeyglazer) on

It is also in the midst of Emmy nomination voting, which can not hurt, but to be fair, the two are not related. While Emmy voters are race fans (10 wins), they are not “wake up early on a Monday and go to Venice Beach” race fans.

Creator/Executive Producer Betram van Munster, Executive Producer Jonathan Littman, and Keoghan all told me they had filled out their Emmy nomination ballots before leaving on production.

“I feel honored that I get to vote,” Keoghan said. “I do like to support our show.”

Back to One

In its second season in the Friday night timeslot, the show is going back to its roots.

“Having gone so extreme last season (with “blind daters” instead of established relationships, fans) wanted us to get back to basics this season,” Keoghan teased for this season. “We listened to them. That’s what we’re doing.”

The next season of “The Amazing Race” premieres on Friday night, September 25, at 8:00 p.m. ET on CBS. 

The full list of teams competing on the Amazing Race 27 are:

  • Ernest Phillips & Jin Lao, Brothers from Boston
  • Denise Williams & James Earl Corley, Mother and Son from Prattville, Ala.
  • Cindy & Rick Chac, Newlyweds from San Diego, Calif.
  • Alex Manard & Adam Dingeman, Cousins from Chicago and Des Moines, Iowa, respectively
  • Justin Scheman & Diana Bishop, Engaged Couple from Philadelphia
  • Jazmine Lewis & Danielle Littleton, Athletes from Los Angeles
  • Tanner Kloven & Josh Ahern, Best friends from Dallas
  • Kelly Berning & Shevonne Sullivan, TMZ correspondents from Los Angeles
  • Kelsey Gerckens & Joey Buttitta, Dating News Anchors from Santa Barbara, Calif.
  • Logan Fazio & Chris Gordon, Dating Paparazzi from Miami Beach, Fla.
  • Tiffany Chantell Torres & Krista DeBono, Friends from Hoboken New Jersey and Staten Island, New York, respectively