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As the host of "The Amazing Race" (CBS, 2001- ), Emmy-winning television presenter Phil Keoghan brought a quiet, almost phlegmatic sense of calm and order to the frenzied global race that formed the show's backbone. His presence, however, was almost in direct contrast to the adventure-driven lifestyle he had led onscreen and off since his boyhood days. A native of New Zealand, Keoghan lent his palpable love for outdoor excitement to a wide variety of television shows in his home country before attempting entry into the U.S. markets. There, he found modest success on programs that included correspondent work on "Fox After Breakfast" (FX, 1996) until his hosting duties on "Amazing Race" brought him his widest audience yet. Keoghan parlayed the show's success into secondary careers as a producer on "Amazing Race" and the technology program "The Human Edge" (National Geographic Television, 2001), in addition to authoring the inspirational book No Opportunity Wasted, all of which were underscored by Keoghan's passion for living life to its fullest.
Philip John Keoghan was born in Lincoln, a town in the Selwyn District of Canterbury, just south of Christchurch in New Zealand, on May 31, 1967. His father, Dr. John Keoghan, was a noted scientist who worked with conservation issues in his native country, while his mother was a music teacher who imbued her son and his brother, television news reporter-turned-jazz singer Andrew Keoghan, with a deep love for songs of all kinds. For eight years during his childhood, Keoghan lived with his family in Antigua and Canada, with occasional returns to New Zealand for holidays.
A near-death experience during an underwater exploration of a sunken wreck had a life-changing influence on Keoghan while just 18; rather than retreat from physical challenges, he embraced them wholeheartedly, and began compiling a list of things he wished to accomplish in his life, which he constantly updated in the years to come. Keoghan's unbridled spirit also resulted in his television career. The same year that he experienced his close shave with drowning, he became a presenter on the New Zealand children's program "Spot On" (1987-1989). He landed the job shortly after graduating St. Andrew's College in Christchurch, with little to no experience in broadcasting, save for an apprenticeship as a cameraman, but his sheer drive made him the perfect candidate for on-air presenter.
When "Spot On" came to an end in 1989, Keoghan embarked on a long string of hosting jobs on New Zealand television before deciding to break into the international market. He sold his belongings and headed to New York City with little more than a backpack. At the time, a foreign host on an American television series was a rarity, but again, Keoghan persevered, eventually landing work as one of the roving reporters known as "Road Warriors" on "Fox After Breakfast" (FX, 1996). The job, which required Keoghan to criss-cross the country in search of unusual or inspiring individuals, was perfect for Keoghan's naturally inquisitive nature. Unfortunately, the series was short-lived and Keoghan was back among the hopefuls looking for television work. He was briefly considered to host "Survivor" (CBS, 2000- ), but reportedly lost the job due to his accent.
Undaunted, Keoghan pressed on, returning to the network to audition for a new reality series with a decidedly adventurous bent. "The Amazing Race" sent multiple teams on a breakneck race around the world to win a million dollars; what set the show apart was its tone, which was less exploitative and personality-driven than its peers. The focus was on competition, skill and intelligence, and Keoghan's dry but focused delivery echoed the production's serious nature. Occasionally, Keoghan was unable to contain his naturally upbeat nature when speaking with contestants, but for the most part, he reduced his emotional input to a single raised eyebrow, which spoke volumes to audiences. The series was a considerable hit with critics and audiences alike, and he shared in the show's six Emmys for Outstanding Reality Competition Program from 2003 to 2008; Keoghan also served as one of the show's numerous producers from 2005 through 2007. In 2009, he finally earned an Emmy nod of his own when he was nominated for Outstanding Host of a Reality or Reality-Competition Program.
The popularity of "Amazing Race" allowed Keoghan to pursue numerous outside opportunities on television and in other media. He served as host on several other series, including A&E's "The Best of Both Worlds" (2003) and expanded his producer mantle to include two additional series: a technology program called "The Human Edge" (National Geographic Television, 2001) and "No Opportunity Wasted" (Discovery Channel, 2004), which challenged contestants to make a lifelong dream come true. The latter series inspired a book, co-written by Keoghan, which was in turn inspired by the list of accomplishments he had begun decades before. Since penning that list, Keoghan had embarked on countless adventures and thrills, including breaking the world bungee jumping record and diving in the world's longest underwater cave, many of which he shared with television audiences. In the book version of "No Opportunity Wasted," Keoghan implored readers to make similar lists in order to live life to the fullest. He later brought the show to New Zealand (TV2, 2006) and Canada (CBC, 2007).
In early 2009, Keoghan added cross-country biking to his list when he and several others rode some 3,500 miles from Los Angeles to New York City to raise money for multiple sclerosis research. After covering more than 100 miles a day for 39 days, Keoghan concluded his race a day before the finale of the 14th season of "The Amazing Race," and with some $500,000 from donations to the cause. Meanwhile, he earned Emmy Award nominations in 2010 and 2011 for Outstanding Host of a Reality or Reality-Competition Program for his continued work on "The Amazing Race."
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