“Well, by the time I got the call that I got the [The Amazing Race] job, I’d been through so much stress leading up to that point because I’d missed out on a bunch of jobs and I had been up for Survivor and it was between Jeff [Probst] and I for that job,” Keoghan, 56, exclusively told Us Weekly on Wednesday, September 27. “I thought that show sounded really cool … where these people go to an island [and] they’re trying to survive. It sounded like fun.”
Probst, now 61, was hired to helm CBS’ survivalist competition series, which premiered in 2000, before Keoghan got the call to host The Amazing Race the following year. The New Zealand native further teased to Us that the two TV presenters still joke about going up for the same job.
“We were calling each other during that time [too and asking,] ‘Have you heard anything?’” Keoghan said. “And we’re both at CBS [now], of course, and we are, I think, in the right place.”
Keoghan and Probst first crossed paths way before the Survivor auditions.
“[Our friendship] actually goes back to New York City almost 30 years ago, back to 1994 when we were both working at FX in Madison Square Park, where there was a living breathing apartment studio,” he reminisced on Wednesday. “And Tom Bergeron was hosting a show called Breakfast Time and I was working on that show and Jeff worked on a show called Back Chat and he would read letters from people. We have a longstanding history of following each other through the industry.”
While Keoghan narrowly missed out on hosting Survivor, he isn’t quite sure how he would have fared in the island environment.
“Well, after 45 seasons they’ve done now, I’m not sure how I would’ve done with that,” he jokingly told Us. “I love Amazing Race for the fact that we are moving … [and] just to be able to have that change and just a variation of environment. I love it.”
Now that Keoghan and Probst have landed where they are meant to, they are “teaming up to own Wednesday nights,” he added. The latest seasons of Survivor and The Amazing Race, which both premiered on Wednesday, air back-to-back on CBS.
The Amazing Race — currently on its 35th season — features plenty of new twists from a “supersized” episode length of 90 minutes, a larger cast of contestants (starting with 13 teams) and new travel destinations.
“We’re starting in Los Angeles under the Hollywood sign, which is celebrating a hundred years,” Keoghan teased to Us. “We fly [from there] to Bangkok, we get to India, we travel extensively through Asia. We get to Europe, we’ll get to Ireland and a place that we’ve never been to before is Slovenia, [which is] next to Italy. … [It’s a] beautiful spot.”
For the CBS personality, Slovenia was his “favorite place” of season 35. “I’d never been there before. I’ve been to 140 countries, [but] I had not been to Slovenia,” he gushed.
New episodes of The Amazing Race airs on CBS Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. ET.
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi