Celebs in 'Mole' Role
October 31, 2002 04:47 AM ET
HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - ABC has finished casting -- and shooting -- its celeb edition of "The Mole."
"Spin City" co-star Michael Boatman, "L.A. Law" vet Corbin Bernsen, "Living Single" regular Kim Coles and "Dinotopia" thesp Erik von Detten all signed on to participate in the six-week series, which is likely to bow in January.
They joined previously announced players Stephen Baldwin, Kathy Griffin and Frederique.
The show quietly wrapped production earlier this month following nearly two weeks of on-location production in Hawaii. Former NBA commentator Ahmad Rashad is replacing Anderson Cooper as host.
Exec producer Scott Stone said he and partner David Stanley had been worried about finding celebs to sign on to a show like "The Mole," which requires them to commit a significant chunk of time to production. But shooting in Hawaii -- as well as allowing celebs to bring along one friend or family member during the trip -- helped producers in the casting process.
What's more, the fact that there are no vote-offs in "The Mole" ensured no celebrity egos would be too seriously bruised in the making of the program.
"This is not a popularity contest," Stone said. "It's the thinking man's reality show. You're in or out of the game based on your own work playing the game."
Celebs came into the game with varying levels of knowledge about past seasons of "The Mole." While Griffin "knew more about the show than we did," Stanley said, others had to watch a batch of tapes before signing on.
Unlike the civilian version of "The Mole," celebs weren't sequestered during the hours they weren't participating in challenges or other forms of gameplay. As a result, the "loneliness factor" that affects non-celeb players didn't show up, Stanley said.
In addition, the 10-day production schedule meant cramming many elements of the show into a condensed timeframe.
That said, celebs still were put through the usual mix of mental and physical challenges that have come to be the show's trademarks. What's more, because all of the celebs are professional actors, the one person among the seven who's actually the Mole possesses playacting skills civilians might not possess.
"Even if they weren't the Mole, all the players were acting as if they were," Stone said. "Sometimes we ourselves forgot who the Mole was."
Both installments of "The Mole" have ranked among ABC's top programs in viewers 18-34. The second installment, which ran last summer, did particularly well considering it was on opposite Fox's "American Idol" juggernaut.