Forget about Van Halen or Alice in Chains. The latest act auditioning singers on CBS' Rock Star technically doesn't even exist yet. And that's the way producers like it.
For the talent contest's second season, the network is offering the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for wannabe J.D. Fortunes to join Supernova, a new band composed of Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted and ex-Guns N' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke.
In case you missed it, Fortune was the Canadian crooner who was tapped to be the new face of INXS on Rock Star's inaugural run last year and has since collaborated with the Aussie rockers on their new album, Switch, fronted a sold-out tour and helped them to a career revival.
Hoping for an encore, CBS and überproducer Mark Burnett agreed to do a second series. But producers soon found themselves in a quandary after several singer-less, big-name bands, including the aforementioned Van Halen and Alice in Chains, reportedly passed. Alice in Chains drummer Sean Kinney told MTV News recently that the group turned down the offer and will audition singers on its on.
So, instead of finding a band in need of a singer, the Rock Star brain trust decided to build one from scratch. They recruited some of the best known metal mavens to form the would-be supergroup Supernova. (That's not to be confused with a mid-'90s SoCal punk-pop band of the same name that scored minor success with a tune called "Chewbacca" from Kevin Smith's Clerks.)
"I've toured with both Gilby and Jason," Lee said in a statement. "They're incredible musicians and I've always wanted to play with them. Starting a new band with old friends on worldwide television is going to be a blast, and we're going to pull out all the stops to find the most charismatic and musically talented lead singer to front Supernova. I love breaking the rules."
There will be a few minor tweaks to the format this season, including expanding the number of contestants from 15 to 16, and--as Burnett told Toronto's London Free Press Monday--inviting back some of the first season's finalists to compete a second time around (word has it, Toronto native and fourth-place finisher, Suzie McNeil, has already been asked to return).
"This is a new thing. It's never been done before," said Newsted, who cut his teeth with Metallica before quitting the band in 2001. "We're going to break new ground musically and on television. The anticipation is building in me every day. This is a supergroup in the truest sense."
Dave Navarro, former axe man for Jane's Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Brooke Burke will be back as cohosts. They will be joined each week by various celebrity guest musicians, or as Navarro put it, "friends of mine like Slash, Macy Gray, Moby and Rob Zombie" who will "throw in their two cents about who should stay and who should go."
Of course, the big difference between this season and last is that Supernova doesn't have any recording history, meaning the winning singer will have the chance to help launch a band.
"The winner of CBS' Rock Star will not only play in huge stadiums before sold-out crowds, they will do it alongside legendary musicians from three of America's biggest, all-time rock bands," Burnett said.
After putting out his third solo album, Tommyland and starring in his own reality series for NBC, Tommy Lee Goes to College, Lee most recently rejoined the original members of Mötley Crüe for a successful reunion tour.
Newsted replaced original bassist Cliff Burton in Metallica in 1986 and went on to record six albums with the legendary headbangers. He then bolted and lent his bass to the underground thrasher outfit Voivod and also formed his own band, Echobrain.
As for Clarke, the former Kills for Thrills fret man is best known for replacing original rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin during Guns N'Roses' troubled Use Your Illusion world tour in 1991. He was fired by Axl Rose in 1994 and subsequently released three solo albums and became a member of Slash's Snakepit.
The new season of Rock Star debuts this summer--CBS hasn't announced a specific premiere date. The newly formed Supernova will record an album after the show's run followed by a world tour in early 2007.