Delivering a new `Idol' with twang

August 14, 2002|By Donna Petrozzello | Donna Petrozzello,NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Cable's USA Network - after the success of Fox's American Idol - will create a reality show centered on the search for a country music sensation.

Nashville Star is expected to launch next spring and follow wanna-bes through auditions and weekly performances, while viewers at home vote to eliminate contestants that they consider the least talented.

Unlike American Idol, which has centered its pop-star search on attractive twenty-somethings, USA programmers said they will incorporate a wide demographic range of singer-songwriters - each, they hope, with a story to tell.

"There will be people from all walks of life," said USA Network senior vice president of alternative programming Chris Sloan. "So many reality shows have been about the people they've cast, like [former contestants] Colby Donaldson or Rudy Boesch on Survivor. A lot of these salt-of-the-earth folks really stand out."

On the USA show, the contestants' life stories and the tales behind their lyrics will play as big in Nashville Star as the contest itself. The winner will get a contract with Universal Music Group.

Friends and family members who inspired the songs by different performers will be interviewed, and producers will look at singers' hometowns and recap their life experiences.

"The songs that these people write and the stories that they tell will have as much importance as whether they can perform well," Sloan said. "It's about their charisma, their song-writing ability and the fans' reaction to them. It'll be about the person who best embodies all those things."

Yet some argue that it may be hard to sell a show about unknown performers without good looks to fall back on.

"Attractiveness is key," said media analyst Shari Anne Brill of the ad buyer Carat.

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