The producers of American Idol will be back on the Fox primetime schedule this fall with a new series that will launch The Search for the Next Great American Band.

According to Fox insiders, the new (and tentatively titled) series is American Idol for groups rather than solo performers. The show is expected to be on Fox's new fall schedule to be unveiled on May 16.

Like Idol, auditions will be held throughout the country for bands that will compete for a recording contract. After the auditions and the usual scrutiny from a panel of judges (which is not expected to include Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul or Randy Jackson), 10 semi-finalists will perform live in front of a studio audience. Viewers will then vote for the favorites via telephone or text-messaging, with a competitor eliminated each week.

Unlike Idol, there will be no age restriction on the performers who enter the competition. The groups will be asked to perform a variety of musical genres during the course of the competition.

For years, Fox has avoided the temptation to dilute the Idol franchise by airing more than one competition a year. Idol has tried to replicate itself before with a summer version that featured kid singers. However, it never caught on and failed to make the fall schedule. This spin-off has the same executive producers, Simon Fuller, Nigel Lythgoe, Ken Warwick and Cecile Frot-Crotaz. Eligibility and submission details can be found at AmericanIdol.com. - Reporting by Stephen Battaglio

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