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Forget families, ‘Amazing Race’ returns to roots

Plus: History of "Iron Chef"; third season of "Blow Out."
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Everyone's asking about "The Amazing Race." And here we thought it was almost impossible to miss the commercials CBS is firehosing onto the air. We've got that show's next premiere date, along with information about "Iron Chef America" and a third season of "Blow Out."

Q: When will the Amazing Race come back and will we have to suffer through another family edition that doesn't actually go anywhere?    —Chris

When will there be a new season of “Amazing Race?” This is the only quality reality show.    —Anthony

Did anyone ever get the pink slip for coming up with the format of the last "Amazing Race" — Family Edition" and how do the execs plan on recovering all the fans who decided to turn away?   Jason

A: "The Amazing Race 9" will premiere on Feb. 28 at 9 p.m. ET. The show will return to its usual format, featuring 11 teams of two people, each with some pre-existing relationship. Teams this time around include married couples, dating couples, friends, sisters, a mom-daughter duo, and a pair of "bohemian best buds." You can read more about the teams at .

The show also promises that it will return to the international travel and flavor that earned it such loyal fans. It's obvious from your mail to us and must also be obvious to CBS that , featuring four-person family teams, lamer challenges and a more domestic agenda, wasn't sitting well with viewers who craved a more global challenge.

As to Jason's question, we haven't heard that anyone was actually fired for coming up with the "Family Edition" concept, but host Phil Keoghan and CBS were blunt about saying they weren't thrilled with the season. The Edmonton Sun reported that Keoghan told TV critics “starting the show by saying, ‘Teams must now travel 8,000 miles to South Africa,’ is always going to beat saying, ‘Teams must now travel eight blocks.’ ” And CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler told the Toledo Blade "I don’t think we were particularly successful with [the family edition] ... Our producers wanted to try something different, and we supported that. ”    —G.F.C.

Q: I have watched “Iron Chef America” and “Iron Chef.” Is “Iron Chef” really a program that originated and is watched in Japan? If so, how does it do? Is the “chairman” in “Iron Chef America” really related to the man in “Iron Chef”?    —Patty

A: “Iron Chef” absolutely originated in Japan: It was launched by Japan’s FujiTV in 1993, and ran until 1999. A dubbed and subtitled version was aired by the Food Network, which in 2000 aired an American “Iron Chef” special that pitted Japanese Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto against popular New York chef Bobby Flay. Morimoto won that battle, but Flay demanded a rematch the following year and won.

The concept translated to American screens well enough that the network turned “ICA” into a series of “Battle of the Masters” specials, and finally a regular series in 2004, with Alton Brown as host and Mark Dacascos as the chairman.  (The series are largely unrelated to a dismal, briefly-lived UPN show, “Iron Chef USA,” that featured none other than William “I ... speak ... slower ... than ... a ... crock ... pot ... cooks” Shatner as the emcee.)

While much of the drama on “ICA” is real, the notion of Dacascos being the nephew of the Japanese version’s Chairman Kaga is a bit of fiction. Dacascos is a martial-arts expert and actor who appeared in such films as “Double Dragon” and “The Island of Doctor Moreau.” In real life, Kaga is Takeshi Kaga, one of Japan’s most celebrated stage actors (he inaugurated the role of Valjean in the Japanese production of “Les Miserables.”).

He is not, however, related to Dacascos, though Dacascos has some impressive relatives: His father, Al, created the martial-arts practice known as Wun Hop Kuen Do.  —Jon Bonné, guest expert

Q: Will Jonathan [Antin] have any new shows coming up?    —Anonymous

A: Late last week, Bravo confirmed that hyper hairstylist-to-the-stars Jonathan Antin and his staff will return for a third season of “Blow Out.” Their drama starts March 21 at 9 p.m. ET, and will air for seven episodes, just like last season.

While the first season followed Jonathan as he opened a salon in Beverly Hills, and the second season tracked his creation of Jonathan Product, the third season has a smaller hook.

Instead, while Jonathan often acts like a big baby in-between styling hair, he’ll have a real baby to contend with during at least part of the third season. That’s because his fiancée, Sescie, recently had a son, Asher Jones Antin.    —A.D.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is's Television Editor. is a writer and teacher who publishes , a daily summary of reality TV news.