New show to discover musical groups

The producers of “American Idol” are singing a new tune, pacting with Fox for what’s tentatively being called “The Search for the Next American Band.”

Skein will mirror the “Idol” format, starting with an audition phase in which producers will look for musical groups of all ages and genres.

Judges will then narrow the wanna-bes down to 10 semifinalists, each of which will get to perform in front of a live audience. Viewers will determine who moves on to the next round, with three bands facing off in the finale.

Weekly competition will test the bands by making them play in various styles and themes. Skein will also explore how the competition affects the personal interactions of the band members.

Simon Fuller created “Band” and will exec produce, along with “Idol” mates Nigel Lythgoe, Ken Warwick and Cecile Frot-Coutaz. FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment will produce. Project was announced during the Wednesday edition of “Idol.”

There’s no word yet on an airdate, but Frot-Coutaz said the goal is to have the show land in the early fall, giving Fox a strong fourth-quarter component to its sked. Unlike “Idol,” she said, the new show is expected to air just once a week — though that could change.

As a result, producers will have to figure out a way to handle eliminations.

Frot-Coutaz said the “Idol” brain trust first decided to do the new show at the end of last year’s “Idol.”

“We sort of thought it was a no-brainer and asked ourselves why we hadn’t thought of it before,” she said. “It’s a natural extension of ‘Idol.’ “

Greenlight is a bit of surprise, if only because Fox has been careful not to overuse the “Idol” franchise beyond the dozens of hours it airs between January and May.

But Frot-Coutaz stressed that while the show will contain “Idol” elements, it will be its own animal. That means no crossover from Simon Cowell, and Ryan Seacrest won’t be hosting.

“Everybody wants to position this as its own franchise,” she said.

Skein will also differentiate itself from “Idol” by “digging deeper into the stories” surrounding the bands and the conflict that comes with fame, Frot-Coutaz added.

Announcement of “Next American Band” comes just a few days after Lythgoe and Warwick announced they were stepping down as exec producers of the upcoming Emmy broadcast.

Producers said they were busy prepping for the new season of “So You Think You Can Dance.” It seems likely that the greenlight for this new project contributed to the producers’ decision to depart the Emmycast.

Fox isn’t the first net to try a band search competition.

CBS aired two seasons of the Mark Burnett-produced “Rock Star,” in which individual singers attempted to land a spot in a band alongside established artists. VH1 had “Bands on the Run,” a pre-taped competition in which four bands toured the country in an attempt to gain popularity.

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