A studio fire could sabotage the Mole's plans to surface next month.
Footage of ABC's upcoming reality series Celebrity Mole: Hawaii got drenched after firefighters doused a blaze raging above the offices of the show's production company, Stone Stanley Entertainment.
This may throw a Mole-worthy twist into the show's proposed January 8 premiere.
"We're still deep in the process of assessing the tapes and computer hard drives," said Stone Stanley president Scott Stone, whose company also produces the WB's Popstars. "The good news is episode one was in pretty good shape."
Despite extensive water damage to the videotapes, Stone insists the show will be ready to air in three weeks. "We're committed to hitting our airdate and have assured ABC we're going to do whatever we have to."
ABC is also optimistic the series will air as scheduled.
"It is on track, through the flames," said an ABC spokeswoman. "We're moving forward as planned with the January 8 premiere."
Celebrity Mole, hosted by sportscaster Ahmad Rashad, features seven pseudo celebs competing to unearth the group's saboteur. The reality series, shot over the course of 12 days on Hawaii's Big Island, stars L.A. Law's Corbin Bernsen, Baldwin baby brother Stephen, Living Single's Kim Coles, model Frederique, comedian Kathy Griffin, Spin City (news - Y! TV)'s Michael Boatman and star of the recently axed Dinotopia series Erik von Detten (news). (The stars roughed it at the luxurious Orchid at Mauna Lani Hotel in Kona during the games.)
Stone said the fire broke out around 1 a.m. on the second floor of the Hollywood Center Studios. "What we got was two hours worth of fire water drenching our editing facility," he said.
The cause of the blaze is still being investigated.
Meeting the January 8 airdate will be difficult but not impossible, insists Stone. "We have about 100 hours of tape for every episode, so if a scene is missing that's not crucial to the storyline we should be able to cut around it," he said.
Producers have reassured their celebrity contestants that they still plan to go ahead with the wrap-up reunion episode, which will be shot on location mid-January.
If the tapes can't be rescued, the Alphabet net could find itself scrambling for programming. ABC recently axed MDs and planned to have the six-episode Celebrity special to fill the vacated Wednesday-night slot. Celebrity Mole is supposed to serve as a lead-in to spinoff series The Bachelorette.
The celebs ensconsed in Hawaii are not to be confused with ABC's other suffering stars in the reality series, I'm a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! The Stateside version of the successful British hit will star masochistic entertainers desperate for publicity. Celebs are stranded in a remote location, fed meager rations even by Hollywood standards, and every miserable moment is taped for starstruck viewers to enjoy.
Fortunately, for the celebs' sakes, that show hasn't begun production yet.