NASHVILLE STAR

Nashville Star fires up its third big season with exciting changes, including new host LeAnn Rimes.

It's time for another nine weeks of nail-biting competition, leading up to the moment when some country hopeful's life will change forever in an instant.

Nashville Star, the popular talent/ reality TV series, is back for its third season on the USA Network with one mission in mind: to find the next country music sensation.

There are some exciting changes in store, starting with a new telecast night-Nashville Star will now air on Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m. EST, beginning March 1.

One lucky newcomer will walk away with the prize of a lifetime-a recording contract with Nashville label Universal South. "We're going to look for somebody that really knocks everyone out!" promises new judge Phil Vassar.

For the new season, Nashville Star holds on to the elements that have kept viewers glued to their sets the past two years and produced hitmakers Buddy Jewell and Brad Cotter. Fans will get a personal glimpse of the contestants through up-close interviews. And like the previous years, the audience will be directly involved in the final outcome as they cast their votes for the weekly winners.

There's also a new host: superstar LeAnn Rimes. As a former Star Search contestant, LeAnn knows what talent shows are all about. "As a singer and songwriter, I can relate to the hopes and aspirations of all the contestants," she says. "I know what they are going through, and I have that perspective of what it takes to win."

Any advice for the contestants? "Well, I think it takes a lot of drive, a lot of 'want to,' " she offers. "That's what we want to see on the show."

LeAnn will be assisted by comic Cledus T. Judd. "I'm kind of like a roving reporter," explains the funnyman behind song parodies like "I Love NASCAR." "I'll be everywhere-backstage, in the audience, the contestants' hotels, wherever they want me."

Throughout the season, fans can look forward to guest performances by today's top stars. Sara Evans, Montgomery Gentry, and The Charlie Daniels Band have already been lined up, with more to be announced.

Planning a trip to Music City in the coming months? Get your free tickets to USA Network's Nashville Star online at usanetwork.com/nashvillestar. Broadcast from the BellSouth Acuff Theatre at Opryland, the weekly competition culminates in a 90-minute season finale on April 26.

- BOB PAXMAN

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