The Mole will return to ABC this summer with a “simplified” format

More than five and a half years after a third season was last discussed, ABC is resurrecting The Mole–but without celebrity contestants or either of its first two hosts, Anderson Cooper and Ahmad Rashad. The new series will air this summer and will feature a “simplified” format, according to its producer.

“Casting and pre-production have begun on the show, which will likely start shooting later this spring,” Variety reports. No casting notices have yet been posted on ABC’s site or elsewhere, but the show will be produced by Stone & Co. Entertainment, which is led by one half of the producing pair (Stone Stanley) that produced the earlier versions.

The exact changes that will be made to the format are unclear, but executive producer Scott Stone said, “We simplified it to where the people at home can play along. And the quiz will be much shorter than in the past.” (During its first two seasons, the series was criticized–mostly by critics with small, useless brains–for being complicated and difficult to follow. Considering Survivor‘s strategic complexity and popularity, that argument made little sense.)

As to the host, Scott Stone said, “We’re looking for someone in the Anderson mode, a little mysterious but full of comedy. It could be a breakout role for someone.” Or perhaps Anderson could be persuaded to dump his CNN gig and return to the place where he belongs.

The return now is unrelated to the writers’ strike, according to ABC executive John Saade. “This is a show we honestly love and people ask us about all the time. We were looking to bring the show back even when the writers were working,” he said. The delay, Variety notes, had to do with the rights to the format, which “had reverted back to Belgium company TTTI, which owns the format. Stone, who’s repped by WMA, finally managed to close a new deal to license the show two months ago.” Scott Stone says, “If anyone asks me what my favorite show has been, I’ve answered ‘The Mole.’ … And it perennially ends up on lists of people’s favorite reality shows. That kept the fires burning inside me.”

ABC bringing back ‘The Mole’ [Variety]