Interview: Co-creator Elise Doganieri discusses The State of ‘The Amazing Race’

Back in June, I trekked down to Palos Verdes, wherever that is, to take part in a junket for the new “Amazing Race” season, conducted just days before the teams headed off on their race around the world.
I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my conversations with the different teams — at the very least, I have lots of dramatic irony-laden quotes to toss back at the teams when they’re eliminated — but I also got to chat with both executive producer Elise Doganieri and host Phil Keoghan. 
Both interviews were fun for me because I had a long time with both “Amazing Race” veterans and if you’re a reader of my regular weekly recaps, you’ll note that I was able to ask about an awful lot of the issues that are weekly bees in my bonnet through any given season.
This interview with Doganieri, for example, includes discussion about the planning of Non-Elimination Legs, the rise in alliance-building in recent seasons, the controversy over the show’s trip to Vietnam last year and, my personal favorite bugaboo: The structure of Double U-Turns.
Doganieri also teases some of this season’s locations and talks about the potential for another All-Stars season in the future.
Click through for the full conversation…
HitFix: When you’re starting to cast up a season, do the agendas or needs change in any particular year?
Elise Doganieri: The agendas don’t really change in any particular year unless we are doing, you know, like All-Stars, which we did a few times. Then we start looking back at what we’ve done before. We always cast for Type A personalities, super-competitive people. It’s always nice if they have a sense of humor, because you have to have a sense of humor to be on the road for so long. And it’s also for people who have interesting personalities with each other. It can’t just be, “We’re best friends and we have a good time.” People who tend to have relationships that are so perfect and easy-going aren’t the best TV sometimes. We have to see, underlying, that there’s a little drama there, a little spark. We always look for that — Just really interesting character that we know will have good relationship moments on the road.
HitFix: What would you say is the best way to get noticed? To get that spark noticed?
Elise Doganieri: You know what? Some people just naturally have it. It’s like the charisma that a movie star has sometimes. When you meet them, you can see it. They just kinda shine a little bit brighter than everybody else and we like to think that we’re able to find all those types of people. People who speak really well… It is a reality show and there’s no script involved, so they might be super-intelligent people, but if no words come out of their mouth, then we don’t have a TV show. People who love to talk are perfect for this show. Everybody that’s a future contestant on the show, we always ask, “Do you think you can win this?” And the ones that are always on the show are the ones that always say, “Yes, I think I can win this.” Or not even, “I think I can win this.” “There’s no competition,” usually they say, “I can win this.”