Are You Hot?premiered on ABC in February 2003, and the competition searched for America's sexiest people via a laser pointer-armed judging panel that featured actress/supermodel Rachel Hunter, fashion designer Randolph Duke and actor Lorenzo Lamas.
The debut broadcast averaged 7.4 million total viewers and a 3.1/8 rating/share in the Adults 18-49 demographic, as well as a 4.8/13 among Adults 18-34 -- making it ABC's highest-rated Thursday night series premiere in more than eight years.
"[Now-former ABC Entertainment Group chairman] Lloyd Braun called me and said, 'Can I have this show 52 weeks a year?' I said, 'Absolutely,'" recalled Fleiss. "Then the advertisers and the right-wing people started writing letters..."
Despite the lofty premiere ratings, Are You Hot? was subsequently left off ABC's Summer 2003 broadcasting schedule.
While ABC told reporters at the time that Are You Hot? was canceled because "ultimately... it was in bad taste," shock jock Howard Stern had also sued the network and alleged the show's concept was brazenly stolen from his radio segment "The Evaluators." The lawsuit was subsequently settled.
"It did a 4.8 on a Thursday night for ABC -- it was their highest-rated show in eight years in that time period -- and then it got canceled," said Fleiss, who added he's not the only one associated with the show who still pines for its return.
"I was just talking to Lorenzo Lamas about it last week. We both were mentioning it."
Fleiss didn't pull any punches in advocating for the return of Are You Hot?, but he was a little less enthusiastic about the possible return of two other shows he produced -- CBS' The Will, which premiered in January 2005 and featured 10 friends and family members of Arizona multi-millionaire Bill Long competing for the inheritance rights to his Kansas ranch; and TBS' The Real Gilligans Island, a campy Survivor knockoff that marooned castaways on an island and had them compete for $250,000.
CBS canceledThe Will after only one episode, while The Real Gilligans Island aired two seasons (which had been filmed back-to-back) before receiving the ax.
"I'll leave those in mothballs," Fleiss told Reality TV World about the two series.
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