Mike White is one of the rare reality show contestants who achieved a modicum of fame outside of the world of reality TV. Mike is a successful screenwriter/actor in Hollywood, having written films like Orange County and School of Rock. He’s appeared on-screen in TV and film as well, acting on Pushing Daisies and Freaks and Geeks (where he was also a writer), plus many others. It was a surprise, then, when the cast was announced for The Amazing Race 14 and there Mike was, paired with his father. We had the supreme honor of speaking with Mel and Mike this morning about their time on the race, and what the future holds for the father/son duo.
Below you will find the written transcript and full mp3 audio of the interview.
Hey, this is Oscar Dahl from BuddyTV and I’m here with Mel and MIke White from The Amazing Race 14. Mel, Mike how are you two doing?
I’m interested as to how you two ended up on the race. Mike, did you have anything to do with that, Hollywood connections and whatnot, or did you just apply like everyone else?
Mel: I just applied. I made a little video with a friend of mine and they called and brought us down there and we made it to the semifinals of season 13 and then my partner kind of freaked out and decided he didn’t want to do it and so then the idea came up to do it with somebody in my family and my dad, and that seemed like fun and it worked out for this last season.
Mike: I’m glad he chickened out.
How open to the idea were you when Mike brought it to you, Mel?
Mel: I think I was open to the idea from the beginning, it just seemed like an amazing opportunity. I got a little more scared after I got to catching up and watching past seasons and realizing how physical it could be and that these kids were going to be…I would be twice as old and three times as old as some of them. I never once thought “I’m not doing it,” though.
How bad was the physical toll that the race took. They made it seem like you struggled a little bit, especially towards the end. Was it that bad, and was it as bad as you expected it to be?
Mel: I think it was much more challenging than I thought it would be. I thought it would be more puzzles and, you know, riddles to solve but the physical stuff, Michael and I traded back and forth and he was really protective and took some hard ones until the camels, and then I struggled over that one.
Mike: We really wanted to have a good time and have fun and compete as hard as we could, but you get so hungry and tired after like two weeks on the road. It’s hard to enjoy all of the aspects of it once you start getting really depleted, so that part of it was hard.
Mel: Mike is a vegan, and there was hardly any food that he could eat along the way and he didn’t compromise, so there were times where he hadn’t eaten for two days, anything solid.
Jeez. What was most different about the overall experience than what you two were expecting going into the race?
Mike: You know, the truth is that we thought it was going to be a blast and it turned out to be that and more. It was actually more fun and it kind of just held up to what all your expectations and hopes would be, and that’s rare in life. The challenging parts, the deprivation of sleep and food, was something that I wasn’t expecting to be so impactful, didn’t realize that I was actually going to hurt my energy level at times when I needed it.
Did that depletion of food and whatnot hurt you only physically, or did it take a mental toll? Did that have anything to do with, say, your decision last night to go away from the other teams.
Mike: Well, yeah, actually that’s a good question, because when we saw the teams out there, it’s like, we liked the people on our race. We liked everybody, but as the it got closer to…as the teams whittled down, there was just less of a camaraderie, obviously, amongst the contestants and people were at their most irritating, and so we saw the people running around and they’d all kind of lied to us on the plane, saying they were going to go one place and then they all went to a different place and in that moment you’re just kind of like “You know what, let’s just take a chance and go our own way and be free of the herd.” And even though in the end it bit us in the ass, in the moment it felt like the right decision.
Mel: We were supported, though, in the Bangkok airport. When we were flying to Phuket, we asked everyone where this gorilla was and almost invariably they said it was at The Beach. We were told by all the citizens that were traveling that that’s where it was.
Was there anything edited out over the course of the season which you wish CBS had thrown in there?
Mike: I mean, I thought we had some better one-liners than the ones they chose. I don’t know – to me, I feel like I was happy with what they showed, There was stuff that I remember being exciting. When we had to make a connection from one Moscow airport to the other to fly to New Delhi, Tammy and Victor and my dad and I took took the Moscow subway and that was probably the most stressful experience on the entire race and it never was aired.
Mel: They couldn’t film in the Moscow subway system, they didn’t have the permit.
Mike: If we had missed one of the connections, and it was super complicated, we would have totally missed the flight. So, there was little stuff like that and there’s hopes that the other teams will be shown in the way that you remembered them to be. Sometimes that happens and sometimes it doesn’t.
That was actually my next question. Were there any teams that were portrayed completely differently from what you actually remember the reality of their personalities being?
Mike: Well, sometimes you think certain teams are being portrayed that are more negative than you remember them and sometimes its the opposite. I feel like Tammy and Victor were a lot of fun on the race and even when they were competing hard they were enjoying it and so I felt like, sometimes I feel like they’re being misrepresented as just sneaky and competitive. You’re not seeing the kind of fun that they also had. Mike and Mark, too, they’re showing them to be cocky but also incompetent in certain moments, but obviously they were good racers too. But then Margie and Luke, I also feel like they were more sneaky than they are actually being shown to be. Margie and Luke are awesome, but they were just there to win and there were times when we thought we were in an alliance with them and working together, but watching the show now I realize that wasn’t the case.
Mel: I was afraid that Steve and Linda had been brought on for comic relief and to be made fun of, but actually they turned out to be good, smart folks.
Do you two have any big plans for the future, any movie or TV stuff coming up for you, Mike?
Mike: You know, I’m writing a bunch of stuff and I have a movie that I’m finishing now that I wrote…that I didn’t write, that I produced and acted in. The guy who wrote and directed Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre, it’s a movie called Gentleman Broncos. That’s been taking a lot of my time, it should be a pretty funny movie.
Mel: Michael threw a reunion for all the teams last weekend and we all came to LA. It was the most exciting time, seeing all these people without all the stress.
All right. Mel, Mike, I appreciate you taking the time and we wish you luck in the future.
Mel: Thank you very much.
-Interview Conducted by Oscar Dahl
(Image Courtesy of CBS)