.... an interesting article:ABC's 'The Mole' resurfaces with a new host
The Mole is out of hiding.
After a four-year hiatus, ABC's cloak-and-dagger reality series returns tonight (10 ET/PT) with 12 players competing for prize money while trying to identify a saboteur in their ranks.
Why the return after such a long absence? ABC just took a fresh look at a format that drew a good amount of young viewers and has maintained fan interest, says John Saade, who oversees ABC's alternative series.
"It was a different regime here and different priorities, and (ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson) was willing to give it another shot," Saade says.
"It's the one show that people always ask about. People are already playing the game now based just on the promos and a little bit that's on the website."
Tonight, in the first of 10 episodes, contestants begin with a rafting money grab above a waterfall in Los Angeles, Chile, the start of challenges at various locations in South America.
One obvious change is the new host, Jon Kelley (Extra), who succeeds Anderson Cooper and Ahmad Rashad.
The Mole features frequent interaction between the host and contestants, and Kelley works well with them, Saade says. "The host has to be someone who tweaks the characters a little bit but also be a good traffic cop. Jon's great," he says.
After the long absence, the producers will remind old and new viewers how The Mole works.
"We're expecting a lot of new viewers, which is why we took great pains, particularly in Episode 1, to produce it with the novice viewer in mind," executive producer Scott Stone says.
As with earlier editions of the series, players must try to determine the identity of the mole. They will be quizzed at the end of each episode, with the player who knows the least being eliminated, or executed, in Mole-speak. In the final episode, the mole will be revealed, and one player can win up to $500,000.
In an effort to engage the audience, the quiz has been shortened from 25 questions to 10, and viewers will be able to answer all of them with information presented on the program.
"In the past, some of the questions would be about things you wouldn't have been able to learn unless you were there on location or one of the players," executive producer Clay Newbill says. The new system "really ups the play-along ability for viewers at home."
Producers say that makes the quiz more accessible, not dumbed-down as some critics contend. Even with player profiles and other clues available early on The Mole's website at abc.com, some fans have come to the wrong conclusions, Stone says.
The Mole has presented both celebrity and non-celebrity editions, but the producers and Saade prefer the latter, which also features the element of travel. This field includes an obstetrician/gynecologist and a neuroscientist.
"I prefer the civilian model," Newbill says. "I think the stakes are greater."