In an interview with St. Louis Today, 'The Mole' producers Scott Stone and David Stanley point to clues that could bring the show back for a third go-round next season -- despite what might appear to outsiders to be lackluster ratings.

"We're the highest-rated show with viewers 18-49 on all of ABC this summer," Stone says. "We're the show the network is using to promote its new fall schedule. Last week, we doubled the ratings of our lead-in. Traffic on our Web site is up. The network should be thrilled."

Since returning May 28, 'Mole 2' started strong with viewers 18-49 (the demographic on which most advertising sales are based) and did even better with viewers 18-34. The trade paper Variety called the show's return "the Lazarus act of the year."

"Is there hope for a third 'Mole'? Absolutely," Stone says. "Everything we're hearing from the network is that they're very happy, and we're feeling optimistic," especially if viewership builds as the show progresses, as it did last season.

'Mole 3' would probably air next summer. But what about Cooper, who during the show's long hiatus joined CNN's 'American Morning' with Paula Zahn? He'd be back, Stone says. "We have him under contract."

ABC first aired 'The Mole' in January 2001 with good ratings and great demographics. The median viewer age of 38.5 made 'The Mole' the youngest-skewing series on the network, in contrast to a median viewer age of 56 for 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?'