11:08am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Jimmy Kimmel to Host Celebrity-Driven 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' for ABC
Seven months after its syndication run ended, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is returning to television.
ABC has ordered a new primetime, celebrity-driven special batch of eight episodes and tapped Jimmy Kimmel as the revived show's host. The news comes as the franchise, which airs all over the world, celebrates its 20th anniversary this month.
Set to bow Wednesday, April 8, on ABC, the new Millionaire will feature celebrity contestants playing for charity. Additionally, a new interactive game app will allow viewers at home to play alongside the stars and win the same amount of money the celebrities are playing for on the show. Contestants will be announced at a later date.
"Regis [Philbin] came to me in a dream, asked me to do this and promised my own line of neckties if I did. I had little choice but to say yes,” Kimmel, who renewed his longtime deal with ABC last year and also executive produces the network's Live in Front of a Studio Audience franchise, said Wednesday in a statement.
Original and Emmy-winning Millionaire exec producer Michael Davies will return and serve as showrunner on the new incarnation, which will also allow contestants to invite a guest in the hot seat to help them answer questions.
"My professional career has been inextricably linked with Jimmy’s since the days of Win Ben Stein’s Money, and he was one of the first-ever celebrity contestants on Millionaire in its original run," said Davies. "I can’t wait to work with him on this dynamic new version of the show that changed my life and the fortunes of so many who benefitted from and simply loved the game." (Check out Kimmel on the original Millionaire, here.)
The new take will also be exec produced by Mike Richards (The Price Is Right), who is also taking over the helm of the syndicated hits Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune later this year. Kimmel's Kimmelot, Sony Pictures Television's Embassy Row and Valleycrest Productions are the production companies involved.
In May, the Chris Harrison-hosted version of Millionaire was canceled following a 17-year run in syndication. Disney ABC Home Entertainment and Television Distribution exec produced that incarnation of what originally was a Philbin-hosted adaptation of a British game show.
In addition to hosting and exec producing his ABC late-night show, Kimmel has become a prolific producer. He recently landed a science-based prank show at Discovery and has ABC's upcoming unscripted series Generation Gap (produced with Mark Burnett) in the works.
The new Millionaire was announced Wednesday during ABC's portion of the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. In other unscripted news, ABC also confirmed that Saturday Night Live grad Leslie Jones would host a Supermarket Sweep revival.
"I’ve always dreamed of being on Supermarket Sweep,” Jones said in a statement. “Seriously, I tried out for the show years ago; and after getting turned away, I knew I’d have to take matters into my own hands. Being able to bring the iconic game show back to life on ABC is my ultimate redemption story!”
Jones will also exec produce the series, which is being produced by Fremantle.