Bucking years of delayed gratification and withholding, CBS and "The Amazing Race" announced the show's Season 25 cast on Saturday (May 31) morning, just hours after the contestants left the starting line in New York City.
In recent years, it has become an annual tradition for "Amazing Race" enthusiasts to be able to cobble together the identities of between 85 and 100 percent of the teams based on purloined cell phone pictures snapped from airports and outside challenges around the globe, images that were then matched with cryptic tweets and obscure Facebook status updates to the point of near-certainty. Despite those reports, though, CBS reliably waited until weeks before premiere for a full, formal casting announcement.
The reason for the Season 25 deviation is simple: Rather than picking a starting line in a remote location or at a controllable venue like a stadium, the 11 participating teams left Times Square earlier this morning from the civilian-packed Times Square and there isn't much point in keeping up the pretense of secrecy when you begin the Race in front of thousands of picture-snapping tourists.
The starting line for Season 25 was a callback to the first "Amazing Race" premiere, which kicked off from Central Park. Most recent "Amazing Race" seasons have begun in and around Southern California.
This latest "Amazing Race" season will be shifting to Friday nights at 8 p.m. starting this fall. As usual, the cast includes a majority of teams we'll have to get to know along the way, as well as a few familiar faces.
Without a doubt, "Soul Surfer" focus Bethany Hamilton, the pro surfer who lost an arm to a shark, is the biggest name, competing with husband Adam Dirks, also a surfer.
"Survivor" fans may or may not vaguely remember Whitney Duncan and Keith Tollefson, who both made it as far as the Jury is "Survivor: South Pacific" and are now engaged. The only thing I remembered about either of them was that they were part of the Savaii alliance betrayed by the flip-flopping Cochran in his first "Survivor" season. Whitney, who also competed on "Nashville Star," was particularly bitter. [I attached both exit interviews to this story, in case you don't remember Whitney and Keith at all.]
I'm also told that TNA Wrestling fans might know Brooke Adams and Robbie E. Strauss. I, however, do not.
Here's the full cast list:
*** Bethany Hamilton and Adam Dirks: Married Surfers from Princeville, Hawaii
*** Kym Perfetto and Alli Forsythe: Urban Bike Racers from Brooklyn, N.Y.
*** Amy DeJong and Maya Warren: Food Scientists from Madison, Wisc.
*** Lisa Thomson and Michelle Thomson: Realtor Sisters from Miami, Fla.
*** Michael Ward and Scott Strazzullo: Firefighters from Boston, Mass.
*** Brooke Adams and Robbie E. Strauss: Dating Pro Wrestlers from Houston, Texas and Woodbridge, N.J., respectively.
*** Tim Tsao and Te Jay McGrath: College Sweethearts from Pasadena, Calif.
*** Isabelle Du and Dennis Hour: Model and Accountant, respectively, from Tustin, Calif.
*** Keith Tollefson and Whitney Duncan: Engaged Couple from Nashville, Tenn.
*** Misti and Jim Raman: Married Dentists from Columbia, S.C.
*** Shelley and Nici Porter: Mother/Daughter from Detroit, Mich.
Are you intrigued by any of the castmembers? Excited about this chance in "Amazing Race" transparency?