New hit leads revival of summer reality TV; avoiding the 'Millionaire' fate

With 14.9 million viewers on average watching Dancing With the Stars every week, ABC is pondering the prospect of trying to turn the No. 1 new show of the summer into a long-term franchise. But the network is moving carefully, mindful of the painful lessons learned six years ago when another hot-weather hit, the game show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, roared out of summer on its way to overexposure and oblivion a few years later.

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As for Dancing, Andrea Wong, ABC's executive VP of alternative programming, is “very optimistic” the network can build a long-term franchise for the 9 p.m. ET Wednesday show, which pairs B-list stars with professional dancers in a competitive elimination format. It is “entirely possible” Dancing will wind up in the regular season, even during sweeps months, Wong says, since a show like that “will work anywhere, any time of year.”