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'Top Chef' ends 'Amazing Race's' Emmy streak

Greg Braxton
Los Angeles Times (MCT)

LOS ANGELES — Good taste finally put an end to an "Amazing" winning streak.

Bravo's cooking competition "Top Chef" scored one of the Emmys' biggest upsets when it beat out "The Amazing Race" for the reality-competition program prize. The international chase show had won seven consecutive times in the category and had been the only winner in the division since it was established eight years ago.

The win marked the first Emmy for the producers of the cooking series, who appeared entirely stunned when they crowded onstage to accept the award. Executive producer Dan Cutforth said, "It's something we never expected, and I have nothing prepared to say."

The loss came as more bad news for Jerry Bruckheimer, the powerhouse movie and TV producer behind "The Amazing Race." Bruckheimer already has had a disappointing year with the lackluster box-office performance of his hoped-for blockbusters "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."

"The Amazing Race" has had such a lock on the reality-competition category that some rival nominees had suggested that the CBS series be placed in another reality category, or that producers of "The Amazing Race" withdraw from consideration in order to give other series a chance to win an Emmy.

Bruckheimer and other producers responded by saying that they would not consider withdrawing, and that the ambition and craft behind the show were worthy of recognition.

Insiders had privately speculated that "The Amazing Race" faced perhaps its toughest challenge this year from "American Idol," since it was that series' last season with its acerbic but popular judge Simon Cowell. The other nominees included "Project Runway" and "Dancing With the Stars."

Now it's "American Idol," which remains a ratings monster despite a dip in viewership, that has its own Emmy streak, losing out in the reality-competition category eight straight years.

Backstage at the Emmys, "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi said that even she assumed "Amazing Race" was going to win again.

"In fact, I was really, really mean to the host of 'Amazing Race' (Phil Keoghan) on the red carpet," she said. "I told him I was taking him down."

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