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PHIL KEOGHAN, 'THE AMAZING RACE'

The Hosts With The Most

They welcome us. Now Emmy welcomes them.

June 11, 2008|Christy Grosz

WE'RE on a first-name basis with them: Tyra is fierce, and Ty wipes tears even as he swings a hammer. Their accessories are iconic: Howie's got models with briefcases, and Jeff presides over fifth-graders. And then there are those signature lines: Padma doles a gentle blow ("Please pack your knives and go"), while Heidi's kiss-off is less than sweet ("You're out.") No wonder Emmy has decided to give it up for the hosts of prime time, a job that can entail herding contestants through a worldwide scavenger hunt, judging amateur dancers or building dream homes. We talk to some of those who will be in pursuit of Emmy's first reality TV show host award, including "American Idol" frontman Ryan Seacrest, "So You Think You Can Dance" emcee Cat Deeley, Jeff "The Tribe Has Spoken" Probst of "Survivor," and the well-traveled "Amazing Race" guide Phil Keoghan.

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PHIL KEOGHAN puts so much time, effort and perspiration into the five-time Emmy-winning CBS series that he could easily appear to be a contestant.

Sleep deprivation notwithstanding, Keoghan says the challenges of working on such a fast-paced show invigorate him. " 'Amazing Race' is, without a doubt, the toughest hosting assignment I've ever had in my career; it's certainly been the most rewarding," says Keoghan, who has been on the host beat for more than 20 years.

Though the physical demands of Keoghan's job are apparent, he says the skill in being a compelling host get overlooked. "If I can make it look easy, that means I'm doing my job properly," he says. "But the easier I make it look, that is a reflection on the preparation we've done up front."

No amount of preproduction research can anticipate the spontaneous moments that pop up in unscripted television, and that's where Keoghan says skill really comes into play. "The stuff I love most is where I have to take more responsibility for making things work in the moment," Keoghan says. "Pulling out good sound bites from people and trying to thread a story through shows."

Traveling to far-flung destinations has given Keoghan unique experiences. "I remember washing my hair out in front of the terra cotta warriors [in China]. . . . A guy says to me, 'The last person that was allowed down here to film anything was President Clinton.' It's kind of crazy that you get these incredible opportunities."

-- Christy Grosz

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