Nets gear up for singing celebrities

Forget directing: It turns out what actors really want to do is sing.

At least that’s the fervent hope in TV land, where two nets — and possibly a third — suddenly find themselves scrambling to sign up semi-famous faces who harbor a secret desire to be made over into crooners.

NBC and Granada are teaming up for the self-explanatory “I’m a Celebrity But I Want to Be a Pop Star,” a weekly series that could be on the air by late summer. Not to be outdone, Fox last week confirmed plans for a celebrity edition of unscripted behemoth “American Idol” that will air as a two- or three- week miniseries.

Both shows owe a debt to ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” which has demonstrated a viewer appetite for seeing stars compete in challenging activities.

Fox’s greenlight of “Celebrity Idol” couldn’t have been good news to NBC. There aren’t a lot of big stars willing to do reality shows, period, and now there are two skeins fighting over the same limited pool — one of which is a spinoff of TV’s top-rated unscripted show.

Granada topper Paul Jackson, however, says he won’t be deterred.

“I think (Fox reality chief Mike Darnell) is waiting for us to throw in the towel,” he says. “We won’t do that. I love a fight.”

What’s more, Jackson says, “If we didn’t like competition, we wouldn’t be in this business.”

That’s a good thing, because late last weekcame word that the WB is mulling its own celeb singing competish, though no decisions had been made.

William Shatner, call your agent.

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