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Getting ready to rock

Hey, you. Wanna be a rock star?

Want the fame and fortune of reality television, without having to live on an island, swap spouses or eat sheep eyeballs?

Reality TV guru Mark Burnett's latest production, Rock Star, is set to air this summer on CBS, combining American Idol (working with former Idol supervising producer David Goffin) and The Real World. Competitors audition their way into the finals in tryouts held around the world, then move into a house with the other finalists. At stake is a gig as lead singer for Australian rock band INXS and a world tour.

Glitz, glamor, groupies _ "no experience necessary."

The road show comes to Central Florida on Jan. 22 with auditions at the Club at Firestone in Orlando.

If you can wail, this could be your big chance.

It's ground floor stuff. Maybe the show takes off like Survivor and Idol. Maybe it crashes and burns like Fox's Next Great Champ, said Derek Santos, publisher of

But one thing's sure, Santos said. With Burnett at the helm, there's going to be buzz.

"Any time folks hear Mark Burnett is working on a new project, there's interest, even if it's a Martha Stewart special," Santos said. "He's had the most success out there. I don't think anyone can say he's not the most influential person in reality TV."

Santos said he's especially intrigued to see who tries out and who is selected. INXS has been around since 1979, and band members range in age from 41 to 45.

"Are they trying to find someone that's the same age as them, or are they looking for someone who's 21, an Orlando boy band type?" Santos said. "How many early 40s performers do you have looking to be a rock star?"

(Hey, Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger is 61. The Who's Roger Daltry is 60.)

Producers say they are open-minded. The only age requirement is that contestants must be at least 21.

Announcing the hunt, Burnett gave no other clues.

"We are embarking on an ambitious worldwide search to find a charismatic man or woman to be the next great rock star," he said in a release. "This new sensation wins the ultimate prize _ the chance to play and be a part of a world-class rock band."

That's it. So why not you?

But beware. Burnett, 44, thrives on what he calls "dramality."

In an interview, he told the Hollywood Reporter: "We create situations. This is clearly contrived situations creating genuine emotions. . . . What is very real is this feeling of exclusion from the group. It's so real.'

Tom Davis, marketing director for the Club at Firestone, said even without advertising, word is racing through the Southeast. Hosting the only tryouts in Florida, and one of only about 20 tryouts worldwide, has brought a tidal wave of calls and e-mails from hopefuls, he said.

"As of right now, this thing's going to fill the capacity of the club. This is just crazy; we're getting calls from Miami to Pensacola," Davis said.

Even as Paris Hilton dropped in to open her own joint in Orlando, Davis said, talk of the Rock Star auditions still dominated the club scene. He expects up to 2,000 wanna-bes to line up for a shot at fame.

"This is about everybody with a dream," he said.


THE PITCH: "IF you are a singer-songwriter with a passion for rock and roll music, WE WANT YOU. IF you have ever had a dream of performing on stage with a world-class band, WE WANT YOU. IF you know you are the best, but never had a real chance of proving it, WE WANT YOU."

THE BAND: INXS has been around since 1979. The group broke into America big in 1982 on MTV with One Thing. INXS reports more than 30-million records sold worldwide, more than 4,000 live shows and seven American top 10 hits. Lead singer Michael Hutchence died in 1997.

THE PLACE: The Club at Firestone, 578 N Orange Ave., Orlando,

THE DATE: 8 a.m. Jan. 22.

OFFICIAL WEB SITE: All the rules and regs are at