Amazing Race creator on Double U-Turns, all-star seasons, locations, and more

The Amazing Race debuts its 23rd season tonight, and HitFix’s Dan Fienberg talked with the series’ creator, Elise Doganieri. Their in-depth conversation is worth a read, and covers everything from casting to security in various locations, although it doesn’t address the problems that eventually led me to stop watching.

Among the insight: “100 percent” of the route and twists are locked before production begins, Doganieri said, though they have backup plans in case of weather, but everything from clues to what Phil will say has been decided.

In addition, the show’s producers and CBS representatives actually vote on whether or not to do an all-star season and, it seems, other major twists: “All of the executive producers and CBS, we all throw our opinions in the mix and then there’s a giant vote and wherever the vote leans is where we got to.”

Perhaps most significantly, Fienberg gets Doganieri to re-consider the logic behind the Double U-Turn. He’s frustrated specifically that a U-Turned team can U-Turn another team before completing their U-Turn. She says, “That’s a very good question. I don’t know. I’ll bring it up with the Challenge department. … I don’t know if we’ll change it, but I will definitely think about that a little more.”

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.

A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.