Image Credit: Robert Voets/CBS; Virginia Sherwood/NBC; Sonja Flemming/CBSCBS won’t spill a thing, but the web is chock full of spoilers suggesting that the 18th edition of The Amazing Race will feature all-stars from seasons 12-17. Rumors abound that Mike White and his dad Mel will stage a comeback, not to mention Luke Adams and his mom Margie as well as Kris and Amanda — all from season 14. If true, this would be the second all-star edition of the Emmy-winning show; the last one aired during season 11 and averaged 10.5 million. The next installment of Race is expected to bow in February or March.
So do all-star versions score that much better in the ratings? They certainly haven’t broken any records for Survivor, which has done at least three. Though the show’s first all-star edition in 2003 did pretty dang well (21.7 million), the other two have mostly been on par with the regular folk editions (Fans vs. Favorites averaged 13.6 million while Heroes vs. Villains got 13.8 million). And if the current edition is any indication, Survivor doesn’t need visits from Rob Mariano or Johnny Fairplay to juice ratings: The show is up 86 percent in viewers versus what CBS was doing in the Wednesday period a year ago. It’s also up two percent versus what the show was doing on Thursdays last season. Maybe that’s why Dancing with the Stars hasn’t bothered with an all-star edition (though who wouldn’t want to see a Mel B/Jennifer Grey showdown?)
But such stunts can do wonders when it comes to building buzz for an (aging) reality show, which is probably why the promise (threat?) of all-star and even celebrity editions always loom large in prime time. Race host Phil Keoghan, in fact, told EW earlier this year that he would “love to have a celebrity edition,” while insiders at Wipeout cop to having informal talks about putting stars on those big red balls (Michael Chiklis, we can picture you now!). And we already know that the current season of The Apprentice (1.7 rating/4 share in adults 18-49, 4.5 million) wasn’t nearly as mighty as The Celebrity Apprentice, which in the spring averaged a 3.2/8 in 18-49 and 8.2 million viewers. Maybe that’s why another celebrity version — not one featuring no-names hit hard by the recession — is coming to NBC on March 6.