Netflix’s The Mole filmed its second season this summer, and a new report suggests Netflix has returned to the show’s roots at least in one way: not by bringing Anderson Cooper back as host, but by casting a gay broadcast journalist as the American version’s fifth host.
Alex Wagner, who hosted Netflix’s first season, began hosting her own evening show on MSNBC last August, after filming but before the season premiered. Her new job even preceded Netflix announcing that Alex was hosting its revival of The Mole, which I’d first reported the day before.
She’s been on MSNBC all summer, when The Mole filmed, effectively confirming that she was not returning. Ironically, it was a cable news job that took Anderson Cooper away from The Mole, too.
That’s a loss because Alex Wagner was such a great choice. Then again, The Mole did not include much of Alex at all, something I asked Mole executive producer Chris Culvenor about last fall.
Will The Mole season seven—Netflix’s second season—use its host more?
Will we see more of the dinners with the cast, the casual interaction, and the legendary challenge that defined early seasons of The Mole and helped make the show iconic? It seems possible, considering the new host is a long-time fan of the series.
Netflix’s new Mole host (?)
The Mole’s new host is All Things Considered host Ari Shapiro, who Out magazine noted was “the first out gay host in the show’s 45-year history.” Earlier this year, he published The Best Strangers in the World: Stories from a Life Spent Listening, which became a bestseller.
While there is no other information or evidence, I have found corroborating (perhaps circumstantial!) details.
In July, the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists’ Excellence in Journalism Awards named Shapiro journalist of the year.
When that award was announced, Shapiro wrote on Instagram that it “reminds me how lucky I am that I’ve never had to weigh the potential costs of being out at work. That’s a credit not only to my colleagues at @npr but also to generations of people before me who fought to make journalism a more inclusive business.”
He posted that message on July 19, which is notable because it’s the only time he posted on Instagram during July and the first half of August. Shapiro posted about interviewing Bob the Drag Queen on June 30, and then posted “we back” on Aug. 13.
That’s the exact six-week period when The Mole was filming in Malaysia.
Besides the fact that Ari Shapiro is a talented journalist and a great presence on radio, it turns out he’s also a fan of the original ABC version of The Mole—and just this year, expressed his desire to host such a reality TV competition.
In March, Ari appeared on the podcast Las Culturistas with Bowen Yang and Matt Rogers, and revealed that he’s a fan of the original seasons of The Mole. According to this transcript, he said,
As a child, I wanted so badly to be on The Mole back when Anderson Cooper hosted it. There’s such a journey with the Mole for people our age. I think like The Mole hit at a very specific important time.
I hope I’m not divulging any secrets here, but I actually had a conversation with Alex Wagner when she was considering whether or not to take the Mole and it would have meant going to Australia and quarantining and being away from her kids. kids. … I was like, this is the dream.
Talking about The Mole and, later, Alan Cumming’s experience hosting The Traitors, Matt Rogers says, “Alex Wagner, energetically, is so perfect for that job. But then another person I could see being good at something like that is you,” referring to Ari, who replies:
“I would, in a heartbeat—in a heartbeat—anyone who is making a glam reality show set in some castle. I don’t want to be eating worms, I’m not interested in having cockroaches spill on my head. But put me in some fancy James Bond-ish getup, and telling 20 desperate people what to do? Yes, sign me up.”