BEVERLY HILLS – Back in May, Rob Mariano — “Boston Rob” to his friends and, well, just about everybody — won “Survivor.” This is a pretty big achievement no matter who you are, since the show has only had 21 winners over 22 seasons, but for Boston Rob it was particularly significant. Mariano’s win came on his fourth stab at the CBS hit and seemingly capped off one of the most prolific and diverse multi-program runs in reality TV history.
Well, forget about that “capped off” thing. Boston Rob will return to the small screen in History’s “Around the World in 80 Ways,” in which he and Monster Truck champion Dennis Anderson traverse the globe utilizing — you guessed it — 80 different modes of transportation.
Mariano and Anderson met with the Television Critics Association on Wednesday (July 27) afternoon and when I got the mic, my first question was to ask about his motivation to participate in an unscripted program without any kind of prize at the end.
“When I was first originally approached to do this show, I found out that Thom Beers was attached to it,” Mariano said. “And Tom makes the type of television that I enjoy watching — ‘Ice Road Truckers,’ ‘Deadliest Catch’ — those are the shows that when I”m at home and I have my television on, that”s what I”m watching. So I jumped at the opportunity to work with him because I know he creates this adrenaline fueled television. And, ultimately, I”m an adventurer at heart. I love to keep going. So, to me, it was a no brainer to do this show.”
Then I twisted the knife and asked if, now that he’s gotten the “Survivor” monkey off of his back, it really grates that in two tries, he and wife (and fellow “Survivor” winner) Amber failed to win “The Amazing Race.”
Rob, wearing his obligatory Red Sox cap, smiled and paused.
“Do you know what?” he said. “It”s in the past. I did what I could do. I felt like my journey is complete there, and I”m really excited to be working on this new show with History.”
Another reporter asked about these long journeys Mariano keeps taking away from Amber and his two kids.
“I”m very, very fortunate,” Mariano admitted. “I have a wife that supports me. She understands my adventurous spirit, and she knows firsthand what it”s like to have these opportunities to travel. She”s done it twice on ‘Survivor’ and twice on ‘The Amazing Race.’ So, luckily, you know, she”s in my corner, and she”s always encouraging me.”
How exactly does the new History show work?
“At the end of the day, we had a course laid out for us, but it was up to us. The only objective we had was we knew we had to continue to travel east in order to make it around the world,” Mariano explained. “So even though there were set things that we that we that we put in place for us to travel with, we were Dennis and I would see things along the way, and we”d stop down. And, you know, the producers were great. They would go and negotiate so that we could drive or take this particular part, this transportation, and we would kind of go with the flow.”
Surely this sounds at least a little bit like “The Amazing Race,” a show Rob and Amber came excruciatingly close to winning once, before bombing out in a second run after dominating the first three legs?
“It’s not the same,” Mariano insisted. “I mean, the Race is a setup of predetermined locations and scavenger hunt. With this show, we were free to do what we wanted to do in order to travel around the world, and it wasn”t a race. That”s the biggest thing you have to understand. There”s no prize at the end of this. There”s no million dollars. Even though we challenge ourselves, we are both competitive, and we are driven. And we are going to compete along the way. Ultimately, it”s about the journey and the interaction between Dennis and I and the history of the transportation.”
“Around the World in 80 Ways” will premiere on History later this year.