ABC today announced its scheduling plans for new reality series Secret Millionaire, confirming Deadline’s story from October. Secret Millionaire will premiere on Sunday, March 6, taking over the Sunday 8 PM slot regularly occupied by Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for a six-weeks. EMHE will return in the time period with original episodes on April 17. Secret Millionaire‘s premiere is timed to the Academy Awards, ABC’s highest-rated annual telecast, which airs the previous Sunday and is expected to heavily promote Secret Millionaire. CBS’ similarly-themed Undercover Boss benefited from launching behind that network’s top-rated telecast last season, the Super Bowl.
Based on the hit British series, the Zodiak USA-produced Secret Millionaire follows successful U.S. business people who spend a week in the country’s poorest areas and at the end of their stay reveal their true identity and give deserving people in the community hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money. The series was first adapted in the U.S. by Fox, but ABC ‘s version is said to be more faithful to the original and have stronger emphasis on the emotional experience. Casting is already under away for a potential second cycle. Secret Millionaire is executive-produced by Grant Mansfield, Natalka Znak, Claire O’Donohoe and Leslie Garvin, with Paul Osborne is co-executive producing.
EXCLUSIVE: Secret Millionaire‘s prospects at ABC are getting better by the minute. First, the network pulled the new reality series from the low-profile Friday 8 PM slot where it was originally scheduled. Now I hear it is giving it Extreme Makeover: Home Edition‘s Sunday 8 PM time period for a six-episode midseason run starting March 6. That is the Sunday after the Academy Awards, with ABC planning to heavily promote Secret Millionaire during the awards broadcast. For ABC, which has no football, the Oscars are the most-watched telecast of the year and the biggest possible promotional platform for its shows.