Perhaps Anderson Cooper knew something after all....

The N.Y. Post reports that a fire in a Hollywood studio has jeopardized the January 2003 air dates of Celebrity Mole, also known as Mole 3, on the ABC television network. The fire, on the second floor of Hollywood Center Studios, caused the first floor of the studio to be drenched with water from sprinklers and fire hoses ... and on the first floor are the offices of Mole producer Stone Stanley Productions, where Celebrity Mole is currently being edited. Apparently, the water-sensitive tapes were under about eighteen inches of water before being recovered.

Scott Stone, president of Stone Stanley, is quoted by the Post as saying, "I don't want to panic. We're optimistic that we have backup that we can find somewhere. We won't know for sure [whether any of the tapes in the office can be saved] until sometime in the next 48 hours."

According to Stone, the first episode was just completed this week, so it is possible that a copy of it may exist. However, the tapes for subsequent episodes may have been damaged or destroyed. Stone said that "right now, every tape is being individually inspected at great expense."

Even if all the tapes are usable, it is possible that the show may not make its editing deadlines and so would have to be delayed. Stone, noting that the fire received a lot of press coverage in LA, put the task before his team simply: "We just have to get the show done."

Celebrity Mole, scheduled to air beginning January 8, is being hosted by Ahmad Rashad after original host Cooper passed in order to retain his anchoring role on CNN. Right now, it looks like AC made the right choice. When (or should that be if?) it airs, Celebrity Mole will star Corbin Bernsen, Stephen Baldwin, Kim Coles, Frederique, Kathy Griffin, Michael Boatman and Erik von Detten.