Jennifer Mullin oversees development and operations of more than 600 hours of unscripted programming, including America’s Got Talent, Celebrity Family Feud and The Price is Right. The producer made a splash late last month when FremantleMedia North America (FMNA) announced it was reviving ’70s game staple Match Game, with Alec Baldwin hosting. The show is set to debut June 26 on ABC.
Prior to joining FMNA in 2005, Mullin was an executive producer at Telepictures and Universal and was supervising producer on the Fox series Married By America. While she is immersed in unscripted projects all day long, she enjoys a good drama as much as anyone. Mullin recently found herself on an extended work retreat with no television, but thankfully had her tablet in tow. “I needed my fix,” she says. “So I got hooked on Billions.”
Mullin spoke with B&C deputy editor Michael Malone about the state of unscripted TV, and game shows in particular. An edited transcript follows.
How did the Match Game revival come to be? After the success of Celebrity Family Feud last summer, Rob Mills [ABC Entertainment senior VP, alternative series, specials and late-night programming] and I and our dev team were chatting about what else was in our library that we could possibly bring back, and Match Game was at the top of the list. It was a very successful show when it was on in the ’70s and has the same party-comedy vibe that Feud has. Obviously Feud is still on the air, so it’s a bit of a different beast. But we felt Match Game had that comedy spine that would resonate with the audience.
How did you get Alec Baldwin to host?
We had a really high bar in terms of the type of talent we wanted to put on the show. Alec is extremely charismatic. He’s very witty, very quick, very intelligent. We approached him and he actually had a love of the game; he had fond memories of the show and he was open to it. We were very, very happy that he responded the way he did.
Any other vintage game shows that could be ripe for revival?
We were just talking about Hollywood Squares—whether that could work in 2016. I think it could if it was cast properly. That show had a lot of staying power in syndication.
What are some new game concepts you have in the works?
We have some really fun games in development—dramatic games, comedy games. Our producers, our development team—we’re developing games all year round. We have some fun things to bring out in the next few months.
The talent variety series genre is maturing. What’s next for that?
I do think variety shows are here [to stay]. We have America’s Got Talent, and it’s the No. 1 show for the summer on NBC. That’s going into its 11th year and is still quite strong. There’s certainly interest from the broadcast networks to stay in the variety singing/dancing competition space. So we’re actively developing in those areas as well. I don’t see that genre waning.