On Around The World For Free, Alex Boylan will set out to travel the world without a penny in his pocket starting tomorrow, Tuesday, July 17, live from New York on CBS’s The Early Show. During the live broadcast, Alex will shed his wallet and credit cards and attempt to travel around the world for free, relying on an interactive Internet-based fan community and his own ingenuity in an effort to break down global barriers, strip away boundaries and experience and illuminate the cultural fabric of peoples and nations around the world. Target destinations include South America, Africa, India and Asia, and ultimately, back to the U.S. These excursions will be broadcasted on aroundtheworldforfree.com daily with weekly webisodes. Alex took time to talk with BuddyTV about his new and exciting adventure which he hopes will change the way people see the world as we know it today. Read the full interview transcript and listen to the mp3 audio file below.
This is Royce from BuddyTV, and I’m here with former Amazing Race winner Alex Boylan to talk about his new adventure Around the World for Free. How’s it going, Alex?
I’m doing great, man. It’s great to talk to you.
Definitely. Thanks for taking the time.
So Alex, maybe you could start off by giving us a little bit of background about Around the World for Free. What exactly is the concept of the show, what’s the goal, what are you trying to accomplish?
Okay so Around the World for Free is an idea that is now taking off but we’re just…I’ve been fascinated and blessed in my life to get to travel and have amazing experiences with travel, so we—myself and Burn Roberts, we got together with this idea of how can we show the world in it’s purest element? And how can we bring the audience more into the show. So that’s really where we got the idea, what if I strip myself of all money and through this online social networking, the audience can guide my adventure. So I’m gonna try to make it around the world in less than six months, leaving live from the CBS early show, and I’m gonna start literally with absolutely no money. Not a dime to my name. And so what’s gonna happen is that if you have long lost relatives in let’s say, Columbia, wherever I’m traveling through, you’re gonna be able to send me text messaging or you can go to aroundtheworldforfree.com and send an email, and messages, and say “Alex, I have a friend who’s driving through Columbia, I have this long lost relative I’ve never seen. You get a job herding sheep over here.” So the audience is kinda dictating and navigating my journey. And so then you get to watch your efforts unfold on the show. So that’s really what the show’s all about, the audience is guiding the journey and it’s really this is the audience’s show.
Interesting. So the fans are interacting with you via the website then, is that correct?
Right. What we’re gonna do is there’s gonna be a video update daily which is virtually gonna be live and that’s just gonna be the stand up. That’ll be me saying, “Hey this is where I’m at. I’m in Lima, Peru right now, and I have no money, I’m looking for a job and I’m heading down to Santiago, Chili. Who could help out? Who knows someone here?” That’s gonna be like every single day at noon. That’s gonna be live. We’re gonna shoot it from the road, it’s gonna go through via satellite, out to the web for the world to see. That’s gonna happen every single day. And then there’s gonna be a webisode once a week. That will be professionally cut with music and the rest of the stuff. And so users they’re like “Oh my God I have a friend in Columbia.” You know. Or what have you. “I got an idea over here. Alex, hey listen why don’t you go and check out this. This is one of my favorite bars there what have you.” And through that interaction I received, it will dictate where I go.
Wow. That’s crazy. Okay so…and this was your idea and Burton’s idea? You guys got together and came up with the whole concept then?
Yeah you know, really I’ve had this idea for a long time and it really started as a documentary idea of really just trying to show the corners of the world in ways that never seen before, I think one of the ways once can do that is if you really have no money. When you’re really on the ground with the people. So there’s a real sense of charity to this project and Burton Roberts, you know he has a show on FOX, and we kind of came together with another gentlemen called Zsolt Luka, and started this production company. And when we did so, we sat back and this was one of the ideas on the table, and it was just you know, documentary idea and the whole technology of web 2.0 and social interaction on the web. It’s grown immensely and we just kinda put the two together and said there you go. That’s it. That’s the show. Now we can offer something to the audience with the audience literally involved in the show all the time all the time. You know another aspect of this social networking site, people can upload not only—obviously the hook is the show, but this website’s got like a virtual map, and you will be able to create your own page just like MySpace or what have you. And upload and go anywhere on the globe and really zoom in on this place and like “Hey, in this city, in this place, like here’s this bar. Here’s this. You will be able to zoom in and find it, or what have you. Like here’s my story, here’s my video, here’s my story.” Just like this MySpace concept, people are gonna be able to do that and interact with all other travelers in the world that share stories and experiences.
That’s great. So who else will be traveling with you guys?
Yeah, really. The production in this, this is truly groundbreaking which is another aspect of this. But it’s only gonna be one other guy. And that is Zsolt Luka, and he is one of the producers of the project and he’s an Emmy nominated editor and director and so he’s gonna be shooting and editing and linking all these stuff to the website on a constant basis so there’s only one other person with me. And the reason for that is that…that A, we don’t want a big production. We feel that you can never get the essence of shooting humanity and shoot travel rolling around a crew. When I say itd’s gonna be more real than an audience has ever seen. I guarantee that.
So how would you compare what you guys are doing with Around the World for Free, how would you compare a show like this compared to a show like The Amazing Race?
Well the Amazing Race is a competition show. You know, the Amazing Race is as great as it is an amazing experience. It’s not…people won’t go to Africa and take the biggest bungee jump in the world. People aren’t gonna have this types opportunities and that’s what’s amazing in the Amazing Race. You get to see these unbelievable places around the world. This is more gonna be about what’s it really like in Peru. You know, what’s it really like in a village over here. And I’m gonna be living it daily. And people are gonna be able to watch this daily of my interactions with the people and being on the ground so I think the difference is that this is much more real and much more…the way that the audience can see the world, what would it be like for them to actually go and travel? You know? And what would it be like for them to really be in these different parts of the world? What’s it really like in Peru? What are the people really like? You know in the Amazing Race, it’s great but we’re in and out of the stops in a day. I’m gonna be literally traveling through with the people. So hopefully through the online audience, we’re gonna have the opportunity where let’s say you had your long lost grandfather or great grandmother, lives in the south part of America and I go stay with her for a night and she takes me to like her favorite place, so we really get to see from the point of view of the locals, throughout this whole journey.
You know, this…being such a new and groundbreaking concept, what kind of participation from audience members are you actually anticipating?
That’s a tough call. I mean, the great thing is that since the day that we really put our stake on the ground, from the day that CBS early show committed to let us launch live and they’re gonna be doing weekly updates and there’s new deals happening everyday but how this might be interactive with bigger shows, with tie-ins on a bigger level so it’s hard to say. I think it’s gonna be really hard out the gates. I think it’s really gonna be a difficult right out. Obviously it’s gonna be a new project and they’re gonna get new people involved, I think when people start watching and interacting with us saying “How cool is that now, my friend is on the show?” That my friend just gave him a ride from point A to point B to show him like his favorite places wherever in the world. So I think it’s gonna grow. I think it’s gonna be…I think this is…I think we’re ready for this, as a time screen entertainment, you’re kinda ahead in the curb on interactive shows and I think that this is what…I think this is crazy. I think that when I look at reality television now, yeah there’s some aspects we’re pushing the envelope, yeah American Idol, you can check on your vote but I think people wanna be part of the experience. I think people want more than just to watch a basic travel show. And so I’m expecting that I’m hoping, or I’m gonna be in a really bad position when I get an update, if the audience doesn’t get involved. I think I’m pretty optimistic. If I’m gonna give you a number, I have no clue but I think it’s gonna be big.
So how exactly do you prepare for an adventure like this? I mean is it possible to even prepare for something like this?
Yeah you know, people ask me that question all the time and I don’t wanna prepare. I want this to be so real and so natural. I’m not thinking what is gonna happen in this scenario, what’s gonna happen in that scenario? I want that to play out on the show. I want it to be like so real that if I started analyzing the scenario, then it’s not real anymore and then I planned it. I mean, there’s really production planning, obviously but in the sense of what I’m gonna do in different scenarios and how…I mean really, it’s the bare essentials and take off penny-less and let the audience, you know, have at it. I think it’s a good thing that we’re not planted on that aspect because if you start doing that, there you go, there’s another typical production which we’ve all seen a thousand times.
Definitely. Given your experience wit traveling, I mean obviously you’re an expert when it comes to traveling the world, what do you foresee as some of the challenges that you will most likely end up facing along the way?
At this point, honestly we’re gonna head from New York City south is at the back of our head our kind of idea and head towards the Caribbean towards the south of America so that…I think it’s gonna be the toughest right out of the gates. I think just being in New York City and I think that unfortunately our culture doesn’t help the person out as much on the ground and I think the first couple of weeks as the show gets going and I literally have nothing, and trying to stump my way down 95, I think that’s gonna be the toughest part. And obviously, when I said nothing I’m not talking food or water and the whole nine yards, and so really, obviously being weak and being in a scenario where I’m just drained and tired, that’s the real…you know I’m a very optimistic person, I think it’s all gonna work out and I kinda have an attitude about this project from the get go so I’m really…I’m not stressed about anything. You know it’s gonna work and turn out the way it’s supposed to and I think right out the gates it’s gonna be the hardest, for sure. I think once the show gets going, and we get to these cool places, I think it’s gonna become easier for us.
So you know, what else have you been up to since the Amazing Race?
See I mean I started work for a production company about four…right after the race. Coming from television, hosting the show called the At the Chef’s Table, then hosted the show called Hell’s Corner, and then kinda broke out on my own maybe about two years ago, started doing surf documentaries in different parts of the world. Did one in El Salvador, then on in Panama, and at that stage came back out to L.A. and in the more recent future Burton Roberts, myself and Zsolt Luka started this production company and we had this bunch of different shows we’re working on, talked to the network about. We just, we really felt that this is something so different and so out there so let’s roll with that. It’s been a long…it’s exciting because this project has definitely got its legs and it’s taking off in a pretty large way, but it’s been, I’d say, four and a half years so you know, doing the grind in the entertainment world to get to this point right now and it’s rewarding and exciting, you know. No one gets behind you when you’re right out of a reality show so it’s been four and a half years…I’ve felt—I’m telling you, if it wasn’t for The Amazing Race, that changed my whole life. I fell in love with this entertainment world and to have the idea that we can…I always said that I want people to see the world with my eyes and you have that medium with entertainment so I just fell in love with it and just been pushing at it ever since.
Absolutely. Do you still keep up with the Amazing Race? Have you been watching seasons since yours?
You know, I do here and there. You know, I gotta tell ya, since they started doing some stunt casting, and I felt that the show got, I don’t know, it got easier in my opinion. I think that it’s still one of the best shows on television, but I can’t say I’m as big a fan as I was in those early seasons. I really liked—I looked back and I know in our season…from early, all different seasons I’ve been talking to people on these earlier seasons. They would say we had to get to from, whether it was Rio De Janeiro to some part in Africa. We really had to figure it out. And now we kinda feel like they won all the teams bunched together, to keep that dramatic journey and in doing so, in my opinion it kind of takes away from the real competition of the show. But in a lot of way it makes for a better show because you have a lot more interaction between the teams so I go to the finales and the premiers and so I keep in touch. But it’s not…it’s funny like I think in the Amazing Race, I mean, how many years ago was that? I mean reality television has evolved. When I did the Amazing Race, it was like one Big Brother and one Survivor, when we actually went to go shoot it, the first Amazing Race was losing the airings so it was…it’s come a long way and all I can say is that I’m glad I was on one of the early seasons of this reality craze that we’re in because it’s so much bigger and just out there now. People know how to…if you look at contestants now, they know how to get airtime and unfortunately I think it takes away from the realness that makes it so exciting.
Which is what you guys are trying to bring back essentially with your show?
Yeah, yeah. I think so. We’re basically kinda taking the whole reality concept because it is a beautiful model and give it all to the audience. Give the audience control—let them be part of the experience and let us…the media to experience things that they never would get to. When you go to aroundtheworldforfree.com, not right out of the gates, but in the coming months we’re actually gonna have, the audience is gonna have participation in voting for the next person to go on the show. So people are gonna be able to upload their own demo tape and reasons why they want to audition of why they want to be on the next one to go on the show and we’re gonna have the audience participate in the process of casting. Imagine if you could control or vote someone to go on to Survivor or on to the Amazing Race, so really that’s what we’re doing with this whole idea. Just taking reality, taking that concept and throw it on tape. Now the audience takes the control.
So your adventure kicks off July 17th, is that correct?
July 17th literally live from the Early Show. So from that, July 17th I will have a backpack and the bare essentials and I hope everyone listening here will help me out and in the process get to experience the world the way they’ve never seen it before.
What exactly will you be doing from now until then?
It’s amazing how this thing is going day by day. So I’m trying to keep it easy. I’m trying to just relax and just get ready for the experience mentally but I’ve been busy with all the stuff that comes along with production that I’m still moving a mile a minute right now.
Any final words or thoughts for your fans out there?
No, I just say hey everyone I hope you all check out AroundtheWorldforFree.com. It’s gonna be a blast to do, and I hope you guys enjoy it. If you guys aren’t enjoying it, if you wanna see something different for it, whatever you want, let us know. This whole site is about you and about the interaction and if there’s some twist and there’s some turn, if there’s something you want, let us know. Let us know, let the producers know and we’re gonna be on top of that. We’re really gonna try to change the state of travel, adventure as we know it at this point.
Alright well thanks again for your time Alex and from all of us at BuddyTV, good luck.
Alright. I appreciate it. Cheers guys!
– Interview conducted by Royce Yuen
(Image courtesy of aroundtheworldforfree.com)