NBC strikes the band with a cappella show

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NBC is launching a singing- competition series destined to draw comparisons to Fox's "American Idol."

The project is called "The Sing Off," and it's billed as the first a cappella singing reality series.

"This is a fantastic feel-good series that viewers of all ages can enjoy," said Paul Telegdy, executive vp alternative at NBC and Universal Media Studios. "To hear these singing groups re-create a popular song with only the sounds of their voices is truly amazing."

Citing artists like Justin Timberlake, the network described the show as "bringing modern singing to the forefront of pop culture," with "no lip-syncing, no backup bands, no net."

There's no decision when the eight-week series will launch, though presumably it will bow in summer or fall — during the "Idol" offseason. The winner will receive a Sony Music recording contract. Judges and host talent have not been announced.

Although "Idol" contestants perform with music during the Hollywood rounds, during early tryout episodes they also sing a cappella. NBC tried to capture some "Idol" magic in the summer by moving USA Network's country-music singing-competition series "Nashville Star" to the broadcast network.

Producing "Sing Off" are Joel Gallen, Outlaw Prods. and Sony Pictures Television, with Gallen also behind the MTV performance competition hit "America's Best Dance Crew."

Sony will sell the format at the upcoming MIPTV confab in Cannes. (partialdiff)
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