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ABC’s Rob Mills On Future Of ‘Live In Front Of A Studio Audience’, Whether ‘Golden Idol’ Would Work & Wanting Howard Stern To Host A Game Show

Rob Mills touched on a variety of issues related to the unscripted world and late-night in a wide-ranging interview that went everywhere from Howard Stern to AI Bachelors.

Mills, EVP, Unscripted & Alternative Entertainment at Walt Disney Television, also talked about the future of the Live in Front of a Studio Audience franchise following the death of Norman Lear and whether he’s thinking about putting the ‘golden’ touch to other ABC shows such as American Idol or Shark Tank in light of the success of The Bachelor spinoff.

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Lear died in December at the age of 101. He was working right up until his death and over the last few years one of his most high-profile series has been Live in Front of a Studio Audience, a series of live specials re-creating comedies such as All In The Family, Good Times, The Facts of Life and Diff’rent Strokes with stars such as Woody Harrelson, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Bacon, Kerry Washington, Will Ferrell and Jennifer Aniston.

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The first special, produced by Lear’s Act III Communications, Kimmel’s Kimmelot and Will Ferrell’s Gary Sanchez Productions in association with Sony Pictures Television, aired in 2019, followed by the last one in 2021.

But could there be more? Mills, who called them “TV executive fantasy camp,” said he certainly hopes so.

“I love it, Jimmy loves it. It’s like everything, you want to be really thoughtful and make sure it’s right. Everything that’s done will be obviously in tribute, in remembrance of Norman, but if we can expand that, I think that’d be great,” he said.

The Golden Bachelor was a huge success for ABC last year, with Mills already teasing a Golden Bachelorette spinoff. But has he considered putting the golden touch (i.e., casting older people) on ABC shows such as American Idol or Shark Tank?

Mills said you could but it’s about the story and the characters. “If we were to do that with any of our other franchises, whether it’s American Idol or Shark Tank, all of these shows have the same hallmark to all of them, which is story, you care about characters … so I think if you can put those traits in those shows you can absolutely look at other iterations, but I don’t think it’s a natural.”

He added that ABC considered doing Shark Tank Jr. but in the end didn’t want the sharks to have to be mean or say no to kids. “We talked at one point about doing … a Shark Tank Jr. We found it was really hard for a lot of these people, other than the Kevin O’Leary, to say no to these kids. I think that some of these things just die on the vine,” he added.

What’s the show that got away for Mills? He said he always wanted to do a game show hosted by Howard Stern. “We had some meetings and this was after AGT. Howard Stern has always said he wants to do a game show. We talked a little bit about that and then I think ultimately, he had huge success with AGT and I think wanted to go out on top and he’s now doing incredibly well with the interviewing and everything but I thought he would have been a phenomenal game show.”

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