Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images Photo: Nigel Lythgoe at the 2011 Winter TCA Tour

American Idol super-producer Nigel Lythgoe is developing yet another singing competition show, this one to focus on country music. CMT’s Next Superstar will be set mostly in Nashville and will feature country music up-and-comers competing for a record contract, with a permanent panel and a rotating cast of guest judges. Sound familiar? Well Nigel insists there are some notable differences between Idol and Superstar.

Said Lythgoe, “No one [Superstar] episode is the same. We’re changing locations all the time, shooting in Nashville, Memphis and Texas. Every challenge is different. Every guest judge will be different. On Nashville star, they didn’t have media challenges. We’re giving them radio training and putting them through photo shoots and music video challenges. We’re putting them on a tour bus. You're really going to get to know these contestants really well, just by being with them 24-7… From my point of view, I want to change [the Idol format] up totally.”

When asked about the show’s format, Nigel dished, “We're putting the onus on the contestants, where they can really make the song their own. We will pick the genres and they have to then turn it into a country song, but make it their own. So if they want a fiddle, they can have it. If they want a steel guitar, they've got it. They can go their own their path, but they are responsible for how they perform. We'll give them the tools, they have to take control of it. We're not the run-of-the-mill, studio-based, glitz and glamour show.”

Other features of the show include a shared living space between contestants in a “famous person’s home” in Nashville, and the announcement of the show’s winner during the CMT Awards. Some ideas for theme shows include having contestants record in the famed country studio Sun Records, or on an Army base for a patriotic-themed episode. Nigel’s son Simon, who has been tapped as co-executive producer, even said, "I'd like to take them to a prison and have them write a song about retribution or why they should mend their ways.” Interesting!

We think this show sounds like a hit, just so long as Nigel doesn’t divert all the good country performers away from American Idol. Where would Idol be without the Carrie Underwoods of the world? CMT’s Next Superstar premieres this April.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter