Star Enters Third Season
By Ed Morris
Star," the popular USA Network television talent search, is
now in its third season of spinning straw into Gold records.
At least that's the aim.
2005 edition of the nine-week series, which began airing March
1, has a new host, correspondent and judges, a new
record-company affiliate and, as might be expected, some new
rules of play. One element remains constant though - the
nail-biting possibility that any week, your favorite contestant
might be voted off the show and back to obscurity.
the first two seasons, the top winners each earned a recording
contract with Sony Music Nashville's Columbia or Epic record
labels and a songwriting contract with Sony's music publishing
division (Sony ATV/Tree). This year, Universal South Records
will release the winner's debut album. No built-in
songwriting deal is involved now, although one episode will
require the contestants to sing their own songs.
of the biggest changes from the two previous seasons is that
this year's contestants are not living together in the same
house during the contest. In place of these domestic scenes, a
spokeswoman for the series said, "There is more onstage
performance and excitement."
talent shows tend to be heavy on the razzle-dazzle,
"Nashville Star" is demonstrably more than smoke,
mirrors and breathless theme music. The show's first winner,
Buddy Jewell, did indeed "go Gold" with his
self-titled Columbia Records debut album and garnered a 2003 CMA
Horizon Award nomination. And he is scheduled to perform his new
single on the April 5 episode of "Nashville Star."
runner up Miranda Lambert released her first (and largely
self-written by writing or co-writing 11 of the 12 tracks) Epic
Records CD, Kerosene, in March to considerable praise
and first week sales of more than 40,000. Lambert has done what
only five other Country artists in the history of Nielsen
SoundScan have ever done by earning a No. 1 Billboard
Top Country Albums chart debut on their very first album. She
joins an elite club consisting of Wynonna (1992), Billy Ray
Cyrus (1992), LeAnn Rimes (1996), Jewell (2003) and Gretchen
year's top winner, Brad Cotter, saw his freshman album, Patient
Man (also on Epic), enter the Billboard Top
Country Albums charts at No. 4. However, he has since left
season's host is Curb Records Platinum-selling songbird LeAnn
Rimes, someone who knows a thing or two about the winding
staircase to stardom. Last year, she dipped her toe in the
contest water by performing on the grand finale. Apart from her
hosting duties, Rimes is currently promoting her latest album, This
is a superstar whose presence grounds the show firmly in its
Nashville Country Music roots," explained Jeff Boggs, who
joins Ben Silverman and H.T. Owens as Executive Producers this
season. "As 'Nashville Star' grows in popularity, we must
continue to feed it creatively with big name talent that will
inspire our Country Music hopefuls."
a singer and songwriter, I have great admiration for many of the
budding stars who come out to try their hand at
performing," Rimes said. "I can relate to the hopes
and aspirations of all the contestants."
new judges are singer-songwriter Phil Vassar, rock 'n' Country
artist Bret Michaels and talent handler/music executive
Anastasia Brown. Vassar isn't exactly new to "Nashville
Star." He made a guest appearance on one of the last shows
of the 2003 season, pairing with finalist Brandon Silveira for a
version of his own "Just Another Day In Paradise."
Vassar's latest album is Shaken Not Stirred on Arista
wanted to put together a panel of judges with their fingers on
the pulse of what's hot and exciting in Country Music
today," said Libby Hansen, Vice President, Alternative
Series and Specials, USA Network. "Phil Vassar is one of
the hottest names in Country Music and knows what it takes to
make it in this business and specifically what to look for in
the next 'Nashville Star.'"
who recently has been writing and recording Country Music, is
best known as the lead singer of the rock group Poison. His
forthcoming album is Freedom In Sound and he produced
the brand new album from Forty5 South, We're Country Because
We Can, set for release April 26 on TILO Records.
sold over 25 million records, Bret Michaels is one of the
best-known and longest-running successes in the music
business," said Jeff Wachtel, Executive Vice President,
Original Programming, USA Network. "But what will surprise
his fans, is that he has always had one foot firmly planted in
Country Music. He has the crossover appeal that we are
looking for in our judges panel this season."
has worked in various artist-development capacities with Peter
Frampton, Waylon Jennings, Sting and Keith Urban. She is
head of 821 Music Group and the wife of Tony Brown, Senior
Partner of Universal South Records.
the past, the judges could eliminate candidates in the early
rounds, but in the new season that chore is left to phone-in
votes or online votes on www.nashvillestar.yahoo.com
from the television viewing audience immediately after each
episode. This co-branded Yahoo! Music and USA Network Web site
features a behind-the-scenes look at the contestants, exclusive
clips and each week's footage of contestants and special guests.
are excited to help pick the next 'Nashville Star' as this is an
extension of our continued commitment to support up-and-coming
artists," said Jay Frank, Head of Programming and Label
Relations for Yahoo! Music. "It is our hope that with the
extensive reach of Yahoo! Music we will help 'Nashville Star'
and its contestants gain incredible exposure and a forum to
reach new and existing fans."
up with Yahoo! Music is a clear advantage for USA," said
Chris McCumber, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Brand
Strategy for USA Network. "It allows us to extend the
'Nashville Star' brand across Yahoo!'s massive user base."
one of the finalists could easily be winners this year,"
said Wachtel. "Yahoo! has streamlined the voting process
but the talent is so phenomenal that picking a winner is going
to be a real challenge for the audience."
Cledus T. Judd is serving as the show's special correspondent
and color commentator, a role than enables him to wisecrack
about the follies of this business the contestants are so keen
this year, the shows are being broadcast from the BellSouth
Acuff Theatre adjacent to the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville.
Except for the first segment, which was taped Feb. 10 and
broadcast on March 1, the hour-long episodes are staged in front
of an audience and aired live on Tuesdays from 10-11 PM ET/PT.
The final episode on April 26 will run 90 minutes.
singing bouts among the contestants, each episode also features
performances by major Country acts, including guests Big &
Rich featuring Cowboy Troy, the Charlie Daniels Band, Sara Evans
and Montgomery Gentry. Additional artists will be announced
throughout the season, which also promises several surprise
talent search for this season started last October in Long
Beach, Calif., and swept back through 18 other cities across the
country and into Canada. Season one kicked off with 12
finalists and season two with 20 semi-finalists. The current
season bowed with a more manageable class of 10 - five men and
through the process of screening thousands upon thousands of
performers, the quality of untapped talent continues to amaze
me," said Boggs. "The wonder of this show is that it
works. In this ocean of hopefuls, the talent was so strong
that we had a tough time getting it down to only ten. This will
be our best season yet."
year's finalists are Justin David, 30, from Marshfield, Mo.;
Jody Evans, 28, Donaldson, Ark.; Jenny Farrell, 35, Albuquerque,
N.M.; Erika Jo Heriges, 18, Angleton, Texas; Christy McDonald,
29, Tabor City, N.C.; Jason Meadows, 33, Calera, Okla.; Josh
Owen, 19, Brownsboro, Texas; Casey Simpson, 19, Cerritos,
Calif.; Tamika Tyler, 33, Coffs Harbour, Australia; and Jayron
Weaver, 22, Dallas, Ga.
finalists are already regular or full-time regional performers,
but there is also a policeman, a rancher, a music minister and a
record company receptionist in the lineup.
March 22, Universal South released Nashville Star 2005
Finalists, an album of cover songs by the show's
participants. On it, David sings "Ring Of Fire;"
Heriges, "Break Down Here;" Meadows, "Workin' Man
Blues;" McDonald, "Long Black Train," Simpson,
"Love Somebody Like You;" Tyler, "You Don't Even
Know Who I Am;" Weaver, "I'm Already There;"
Evans, "Three Nickels And A Dime;" Owen, "Are You
Sure Hank Done It This Way;" and Farrell, "Seven Year
general admission tickets to the live shows are available to the
public on a first-come, first-served basis for every
"Nashville Star" broadcast on the Web at www.usanetwork.com/nashvillestar
or simply by showing up at the Opry Plaza at 6:00 PM CST (doors
open at 7:00 PM). Each week, one lucky member of the
audience will receive an iPOD and one will receive an Epiphone
acoustic guitar signed by all the contestants through a random
drawing held one-half hour before showtime.
Star" was created by Reveille and is produced by Jon Small
and his production company, Picture Vision.
Network is cable television's leading provider of original
series and feature movies, sports events, off-net television
shows and blockbuster theatrical films and is seen in more than
88 million U.S. homes. USA Network is a program service of
NBC Universal Cable a division of NBC Universal, one of the
world's leading media and entertainment companies in the
development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news,
and information to a global audience.
Jewell, Miranda Lambert and the third season "Nashville
Star" winner are scheduled to appear at 2005 CMA Music
Festival that takes place in Downtown Nashville, Thursday -
Sunday, June 9-12.
ticket packages for CMA Music Festival are on sale now. Packages
are divided into four categories, based on the level of reserved
seating at The Coliseum. Ticket packages include the Nightly
Concerts at The Coliseum; Daily Concerts at Greased Lightning®
Daytime Stages; daily admittance to the Wrangler® Fan Fair
(Exhibit Hall) featuring the Acoustic Corner; Bush's® Baked
Beans Family Zone; Fun Zone; Sports Zone and performance stage;
CMA Music Festival After HoursT; free in-town shuttles; the CMA
Music Festival Program Book; CMA Music Festival pin; and more.
ticket packages are easy to purchase. Order over the phone by
calling toll-free, 1-800-CMA-FEST (262-3378); visit www.CMAfest.com
to download an order form to fax or mail; visit www.Ticketmaster.com
to buy online or charge-by-phone at (615) 255-9600. Prices do
not include applicable handling fees. Ticket prices are subject
to change without notice. Order early for the best available
reserved seat at The Coliseum. All sales are final and
up-to-the-minute information about tickets, travel information,
schedules, artists appearing and more, visit www.CMAfest.com
and sign up for e-news or purchase official CMA Music Festival
CMA Music Festival is organized and produced by the Country
Music Association. CMA Board member Tony Conway is the Executive
Producer of CMA Music Festival. MJI Programming, a division of
Premiere Radio Networks, is the official radio broadcaster.
Promotional partners include Bush's® Baked Beans, Crisco®,
Greased Lightning®, NBC Daytime and Wrangler®. Fan Fair is a
registered trademark of CMA.
On the Web: www.nashvillestar.yahoo.com
2005 CMA Close Up News Service / Country Music Association, Inc.
courtesy of "Nashville Star" / USA Network