'Amazing Race' winner going 'Around the World for Free'
You may have seen him on TV, sprinting across the finish line in 2001 with his lifelong friend Chris Luka to win the “Amazing Race 2” by just 10 seconds. Or you may have seen him in your classroom at Georgetown Middle High School. Alex Boylan, who is now a reality television star, graduated from GMHS in 1995. Get ready to see him again.
Sometime between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, you can watch this intrepid adventurer set off from the CBS Early Show on a worldwide journey without a cent in his jeans. Boylan is co-producing “Around the World for Free” with two friends — former “Survivor” finalist Burton Roberts and Emmy-Award nominated editor/director Zsolt Luka.
The reality TV veterans have formed Around the World Productions, and their first project, “Around the World for Free,” is an extreme travel reality series during which Boylan will be accompanied by only one person, his lifelong friend Chris Luka, with whom he won “Amazing Race 2.” Luka will serve as cameraman for the interactive, Web-based series, and Web viewers will be calling the shots and setting Boylan’s itinerary.
“We cannot do this show honestly if we have a big crew with us,” said Boylan, who wants to share authentic cultural exchanges with viewers.
Luka will send 8- to 12-minute weekly episodes back to the series’ Fanrocket-powered site www.aroundtheworldforfree.com. Luka will also periodically emerge from behind the scenes to add his voice to the experience. Fanrocket is a social networking and user-generated content platform headed by CEO Danny Kastner, an alum of “The Apprentice.”
Boylan plans a live update every day by satellite to the Web site so people can contact him with places to find food, temporary work or lodging in various countries.
“This is the most fascinating project I’ve ever been involved in,” said Boylan this week. “I’m risking it all on this project. I’m one of the producers, and really the creator of this. The idea came to me when I was in Florida three years ago. Someone told me, ‘It’s easy for you to travel, you make a lot of money.’ I replied, ‘If I had no money I could go around the world.’”
The show took shape from there, and evolved into a cutting-edge reality show, where Boylan’s well-being will depend on advice and assistance from people all around the world logging on to his Web site and offering assistance with places to stay or where to find free food, and advice on where to travel next.
“I’ll be in touch every day,” promised Boylan. “We can all interact. The audience becomes the producer and dictates the outcome of the show.
“I started this last year with a good friend of mine, Burton Roberts, who was on ‘Survivor.’ We cut a demo and from the get-go people wanted to do this.
“We have creative control over this program’s content and we’ll turn it over to the audience. Say we’re in Venezuela and there’s just been an earthquake in Colombia, so we don’t know whether we should go there. The audience makes the decision, and if they say ‘go,’ we’ll go. Of course I’m not crazy, and I’m not out to kill myself.
“This journey is all about relying on the input from others as well as resourcefulness on the road. It’s a bit scary to think soon I’ll head off penniless around the world ... I am really going to need help from the online audience or it will be a very bumpy ride.”
The Internet fan community at www.aroundtheworldforfree.com will be encouraged to offer suggestions on travel destinations, advice on interesting people to interact with, even viable tips on places where Alex might find room and board via e-mail, message boards and cellular text messaging. For example, he may act on a viewer’s suggestion to connect with a long-lost relative for a job in Peru or seek out a viewer’s sister for a place to crash in Cape Town, South Africa.
Part of Boylan’s motivation for taking on this formidable challenge is his desire to show audiences “hidden corners of the world we would never know about,” and to show people it’s not such a bad place.
“We just live in this world with an absolute misconception of other countries,” said Boylan. “I don’t think they hate America as much as we think they do. I believe the world is a good place even though some bad things happen.”
The precedent-setting show will be the only professionally produced Web series shot with two cameras on the fly across borders, with no security or on-location production support of any kind. It will also feature original independent music on a daily basis from both domestic and international artists through a partnership with music producers Supervise & Score.
“We are excited to harness a lifelong shared love of travel, the expertise of three reality show veterans, a cutting-edge, tech-savvy director and the power of the Internet to create the first next-generation live interactive extreme travel reality experience,” said co-producer Roberts.
Boylan said he hopes to complete his extreme travels to South America, Africa, Europe, India and Asia in about six months.
Meanwhile, back in Georgetown
Boylan’s family is heading down to Trump Plaza in New York City to be with him for his Sept. 18 departure. His dad, Rev. William Boylan of the Byfield Parish Church, and his mom Miriam will be there, along with sisters Andrea and Alexis and brother Andrew. Are they concerned for his safety?
“You’d be silly not to worry,” said Rev. Boylan this week. “But Alex is savvy. He’s a pretty good judge of situations. It was odd to watch him on CBS for 14 weeks [during ‘The Amazing Race’].”
“We really believe the Lord is in charge of everything,” said Miriam. She thinks her son is ready for the challenge. “He doesn’t sit still a minute; he’s always on the go. Even as a young boy on his bicycle he’d go as fast as he could go.”
“It’s been his personality, pushing himself beyond the limits and excelling in sports,” said Rev. Boylan. “He likes excitement.”
The Boylans took Alex backpacking across Europe when he was 13 and he played soccer in Brazil at age 16. After college, he quickly realized he wasn’t the corporate sort, and he was bartending in the Caribbean when he was tapped for the “Amazing Race 2.”
“I have a very, very blessed life,” said Alex. “My folks made me what I am today.”
Everyone is invited to tune in to CBS on Sept. 18 to watch the live launch of Boylan’s new series. He’s traveling light — no money and minimal clothing, but loads of survival gear.
“Our backpacks will be full, that’s for sure,” said Boylan.
- Georgetown (Mass.) Record