Gameshow returns for 10th anniversary special

ABC is dusting off an old favorite to serve as an August lifeline: “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” will return this summer for a 10th anniversary special event.

Regis Philbin will be back as host of the show, which will air for 11 nights Sundays through Thursdays at 8 p.m. starting Aug. 9. Show will end with a finale Sunday, Aug. 23.

“It’s going to be good to be back, 10 years after it all started,” said exec producer Michael Davies.

ABC hopes to use the show as a marketing launch pad for its fall sked.

The August “Millionaire” will air as a one-time event — but if the show comes back strongly, ABC may consider bringing it back as an occasional stunt.

“Millionaire” first bowed on ABC in summer 1999 as a special, but quickly roared to the top of the Nielsens. After returning as an additional series of special events in the 1999-2000 TV season, it came back the following year as a regular series.

The show briefly put ABC back on top of the Nielsens — and Philbin’s monochromatic outfits sparked a fashion craze. But the net couldn’t resist the temptation to overuse “Millionaire,” which eventually faded away in primetime.

“Millionaire” last aired on ABC’s primetime sked in 2004, but continues as a daytime strip, hosted by Meredith Vieira. The show re-entered the pop culture zeitgeist this year thanks to the success of Academy Award-winning film “Slumdog Millionaire.”

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