The teams for the upcoming season are Akbar Cook Sr. (45) and Sheridan Cook (44), married educators from Martinsville, NJ; Anthony Sadler (29) and Spencer Stone (29), childhood friends from Sacramento, CA; Arun (56) and Natalie Kumar (28), a father and daughter from Detroit, MI; Caro Viehweg (23) and Ray Gantt (25), a couple from Los Angeles and Toms River, NJ, respectively; Connie (37) and Sam Greiner (39), a married couple from Charlotte, NC; Kim (45) and Penn (47) Holderness, internet personalities from Raleigh, NC; Marienela “Lulu” (37) and Marissa “Lala” (37) Gonzales, twins and radio hosts from North Bergen, NJ; Michael Norwood (36) and Armonde “Moe” Badger (42), singing police officers from Buffalo, NY; Raquel Moore (31) and Cayla Platt (30), flight attendants from Chicago, IL and Gulf Breeze, FL, respectively; Ryan Ferguson (37) and Dusty Harris (38), best friends from Columbia, MO; and Taylor Green-Jones (38) and Isaiah Green-Jones (31), YouTube stars from Portland, Oregon.
The series hosted by Phil Keoghan sends teams on a trek around the world to compete in a series of mental and physical challenges, with a $1 million prize on the line. Over the last 20 years, 32 trips around the globe have been completed, with 600-plus racers logging more than one million miles in their journeys to more than 90 countries. And while production on Season 33 launched way back in February of 2020, production was forced to halt after just three legs due to the Covid-19 pandemic, resuming this fall after the longest pitstop in the show’s history.
This year, teams will start out at home before setting out for London, England, where they must find “The Queen” and “Boris Johnson” having a nosh. They will then travel to Scotland, where the nearly 20-month production hiatus began, with Keoghan uttering the iconic words “the world is waiting for you (again)” at the re-start line of leg four in Switzerland. Subsequent destinations will include France, Greece, Portugal and Los Angeles, where the first team to cross the final finish line will be crowned the winner.
To make the new season possible, co-creator-EPs Bertram Van Munster and Elise Doganieri implemented extensive safety protocols, employing four different Covid testing teams, setting a course through countries where Covid rates were lowest, and chartering a 757 jet to take contestants and crew between them, so that they wouldn’t have to risk infection via airport travel. Van Munster, Doganieri and Keoghan were joined for a virtual panel as part of today’s event by teammates Marienela “Lulu” and Marissa “Lala” Gonzales, and Kim and Penn Holderness, teasing their excitement about the new season and its cast, and further breaking down all that went into producing it, without so much as one incident of Covid amongst the cast and crew.
While two teams originally set for Season 33 dropped out following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Doganieri promises that it will “still have the same energy” as seasons past, with some necessary updates for safety. “We just had to make some adjustments, and I actually think some, we could keep for the future,” she said. “There were some silver lining moments, and we adjusted the format slightly, but maybe it’s improved in some ways. We can’t wait to do it again.”
Keoghan said that the idea was to “embrace the change and use it to our advantage,” with Van Munster elaborating on the logistics of executing an already “very, very complex production” in an even more complex time, noting that CBS and the producers went to every length to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
Both the Gonzales sisters and Penn and Kim Holderness, who had been involved with Season 33 since its pre-pandemic launch, said that there was never any doubt about returning amidst the pandemic, given their love of the show—as long as every possible step was taken to ensure their safety. “If you didn’t give us all those protocols, it would’ve been hard to return,” admitted Penn Holderness. “[But] it was safer in Europe than in our house…It was amazing.”
The Gonzales sisters shared that while their grandmother had been behind them as they set out on the shoot in 2020, she unfortunately passed away during the time of the pandemic, which gave them even more inspiration to complete their Amazing Race journey.
“Coming back that second time, she’s not there, so we felt we needed to do this for her and everyone who had lost a loved one during the pandemic,” said Lulu Gonzales.
“We wanted to show that it is going to be okay, that it is going to be safe to travel again. We wanted to show the world that life goes on and everything’s going to be just fine,” added her sister Lala. “It was a great experience, and we’re so happy we did it . We’re happy to be a part of history, really.”
The Amazing Race airs on CBS and is available for live and on-demand streaming via Paramount+. Van Munster, Doganieri and Keoghan exec produce the Emmy-winning competition series with Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman, and Mark Vertullo for Jerry Bruckheimer Television and Earthview Inc. in association with ABC Studios and Amazing Race Productions.
Check out a new featurette, celebrating 20 years of The Amazing Race and previewing the new season, above. A group shot of the Season 33 cast can be found below.