EXCLUSIVE: The CW is looking to make a splash this summer with a music competition series from Queen Latifah and The Biggest Loser creator/executive producer Dave Broome. The project, tentatively titled The Star Next Door, has pop diva Gloria Estefan and country star John Rich set as mentors. The series, which has received a 10-episode order, is expected to tap a couple more mentors in the coming weeks. Like other shows, The Star Next Door will go on a nationwide search for undiscovered artists, but in doing so it is taking the opposite approach to most other singing competition series, where auditions are held throughout the country and those that are selected are brought in to Hollywood. In The Star Next Door, the mentors, including Estefan and Rich, will travel to where the talent is and immerse themselves in the lives and towns of these local performers while preparing them for the chance to represent their home city live on national TV. The show will be produced in cooperation with the local CW stations in the markets where the contestants live. The Star Next Door is being produced by Raquel Prods, the reality production unit of CW sibling CBS; Broome’s 25/7 Prods; and Flavor Unit Entertainment, Queen Latifah’s company with Shakim Compere. Broome, Queen Latifah and Compere will executive produce.
The Star Next Door, one of slew of originals the CW is planning for the summer, is part of network president Mark Pedowitz’s plan to keep the lights on off-season when the CW previously went dormant with repeats. The network was very serious about launching a music competition series, developing several concepts and ultimately proceeding with The Star Next Door. In launching it in the summer, the CW is taking a page of the playbook of juggernaut American Idol, which also launched in the summer.
This is the CW’s first major entry in the singing competition reality space, where The Star Next Door will join established players American Idol, The Voice, The X Factor and America’s Got Talent. The only previous music competition series in the CW’s six-year history was The Pussycat Dolls Present, which ran for two seasons. But the CW’s predecessor the WB was actually the first U.S. network to get into the space in a big way with Popstars, the singing competition whose British original is credited with kicking off the reality genre’s popularity.
On the TV side, Queen Latifah is developing a syndicated daytime talk show with Sony Pictures TV, which Flavor Unit is co-producing alongside Will Smith and James Lassiter’s Overbrook Entertainment. Additionally, Flavor Unit is behind two scripted series — Let’s Stay Together on BET and Single Ladies on VH1, both of which have been renewed for a second season. On the feature side, Queen Latifah was most recently seen in Warner Bros’ Joyful Noise. Queen Latifah and Broome are with WME.