Romber is back!

Finally spilling the beans on one of reality television’s worst-kept secrets, CBS announced on Wednesday that “Survivor: All-Stars” winner Amber Brkich and her vanquished “Survivor” co-star and fiance Rob Mariano will lead the cast of the seventh installment of “The Amazing Race.”

In addition to unveiling the new “Race” cast, CBS announced that the network has ordered an eighth and ninth installment of the Emmy-winning reality drama to air during the 2005/2006 season. Messing with the show’s familiar formula, the eighth season will be a family addition in which each of the 11 teams has been expanded to four players, all family members. The ninth season will return to the familiar format.

“The Amazing Race” finished its sixth season on Tuesday night, as engaged models Kendra Bentley and Freddy Holliday won the million dollar first prize. The season averaged 11.33 million viewers in the weeks leading up to the finale.

The 11-team “Amazing Race 7” cast doesn’t contain a single person described as a “model” (though one is a former Miss South Carolina) and there’s only one self-described “actor,” which should calm some fans who felt that many recent contestants were doing the show to advance Hollywood careers. Instead, the cast features a diverse assortment of professionals including a stock broker, fashion designer, contractor, energy broker and one motivational speaker (former Iraq War POW Ron Young).

The teams of connected players will begin their race around the world in a two-hour premiere March 1. Phil Keoghan returns as host of the show.

Noth rejoins ‘Law & Order’ family

“Law & Order” veteran Chris Noth is set to return to the franchise this Sunday, bringing his Det. Mike Logan over to “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” Noth’s visit is no mere guest appearance, though. Starting next season, Noth and current “Criminal Intent” star Vincent D’Onofrio will split the show’s case load, with Noth coming on board as a series regular.

Starting in the show’s fifth season, Logan and D’Onofrio’s Det. Robert Goren will each do time as lead detective on the show’s Major Case Squad. Each actor will front 11 “Criminal Intent” episodes.

“The hardest job in show business is being a single lead on an hour drama series,” creator and executive producer Dick Wolf says. “Vincent has done an unbelievable job for the last four seasons, but after 3.5 years, the grueling pace finally took its toll. This is an ideal solution so that Vincent can continue to do the incredible work that has become the hallmark of the role. I’ve worked with Chris over the past 17 years, and bringing him on to reprise one of the most popular characters in the history of the brand, is a win-win situation.”

From 1990-95, Noth played Logan on the “Law & Order” mothership, reprising the character in the 1998 telefilm “Exiled.”

“It’s great to be back working with Dick and (showrunner) Rene (Balcer) and to be in the “Law & Order’ family again,” Noth said. “I felt very much at home when I did the guest shot and realized how terrific the cast and crew are, it was an offer that I couldn’t refuse.”

D’Onofrio was hospitalized twice last fall after fainting incidents on the show’s set. At the time, Noth’s name was put forth as a possible replacement or fill-in for the ailing actor. The intense actor seems to welcome the chance for an occasional respite.

“I love this show, and I hope to stay with it as long as it is on the air,” D’Onofrio says. “After recently working with Chris on an episode, I am excited about what he will bring to the show creatively, and my reduced workload will be very welcome.”



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