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CBS Joins Reality Hunt for New INXS Singer

Four years after the launch of “Survivor,” the show’s chief, Mark Burnett, is reuniting with CBS in search of a rock star.

After a healthy bidding war, CBS has landed an untitled reality series described as a cross of “American Idol,” “Big Brother” and “Survivor” set in the world of rock music.

It will feature aspiring musicians competing for the chance to become the new lead singer of Australian rock band INXS, a gig that opened up after the 1997 suicide of frontman Michael Hutchence.

After a multicontinent search with auditions in cities throughout the United States and Canada as well as London, Tokyo and INXS’ hometown of Sydney, about a dozen male and female finalists will be selected to live together in a Hollywood Hills home.

The Mark Burnett Prods. series, set to premiere in summer 2005, will feature two hours of programming each week, a combination of taped segments that focus on the relationships between the contestants in the house, live performances and a weekly elimination determined by viewers, judges and INXS band members.

How the two hours will be broken down into broadcasts is yet to be determined.

The winner will embark on a worldwide concert tour with INXS and sing on the group’s next album.

“INXS is one of the world’s premier rock bands, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for someone,” Burnett said. “Rock stars are colorful personalities and charismatic performers who make great reality TV characters. Add to that a global format, elimination-style competition and the enormous stakes of becoming the lead singer in a successful group, and you have a unique environment for compelling unscripted drama.”

In addition to his four-year relationship with CBS because of “Survivor,” Burnett said he was attracted to the network for the new project because of the additional opportunities stemming from CBS’ hosting of the Grammys and the network’s sibling music-oriented cable and radio properties, including MTV and VH1.

“We think Mark and his team have developed a concept that will generate excitement worldwide, will appeal to a broad audience here in the States and has tremendous synergistic potential with other Viacom platforms to create a huge television event in the summer of ’05,” CBS’ entertainment president Nancy Tellem said.

INXS, which formed in the late ’70s, has had a half-dozen top 10 U.S. singles and sold more than 30 million albums worldwide. Following Hutchence’s death, INXS has performed with guest vocalists Terence Trent D’Arby and Jon Stevens.

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