USA Network has announced that the third edition of Nashville Star, its reality talent search series that seeks to find America's next great country music star, will premiere in March 2005 -- but not without a few changes.

"We're going to shake things up when we bring Nashville Star back for a third season," stated Jeff Wachtel, USA's executive vice president of original programming, in making the announcement. "We're adding a few twists to the format that will heighten the competition and make a great show even better."

But unfortunately for longtime Nashville Star viewers, based on the comments of USA vice president Libby Hansen, it seems as though those changes may preclude the crowning another winner such as Buddy Jewell, the show's overweight 40-something first season winner.

Despite Jewell's significant music chart success, it appears that the network -- perhaps smitten by the second season victory of younger "pretty boy" singer Brad Cotter -- has decided to abandon more traditional "throwback" artists in favor of the more hip and glamorous artists that have increasingly invaded the country music industry. "Nashville Star is going to reflect what's happening on today's country music scene. It's young and fun and we want our cast and the show to be the same," stated Hansen.

Whether the contestants selected for the third edition of the series will bare any resemblance to the "all shapes, shapes, and ages" contestants featured on the first two Nashville Star editions or be indistinguishable from those featured on an American Idol: The Country Edition series remains to be seen, but given Hansen's comments, the changes might perhaps result in one positive development -- a move from what USA Network executives must also recognize as the program's completely unhip Saturday night time period.

In support the next year's premiere, Nashville Star will launch a national casting tour beginning at the Cowboy Country in Long Beach, CA on October 25th and continuing on to eighteen cities across the U.S. and one city in Canada. In each city, those auditioning will have one minute to perform a song off an approved song list. The talented and lucky ones will be invited back the next day where they will have a chance to sing either two cover songs from the approved song list or one song off the list and an original song. The top contestants will then proceed on to one of four regional competitions where they will again audition for a chance to appear on the show.

For those who can't make it to get to any of the show's upcoming open casting calls, mail-in applications are also available from the show's website.

As in the past, the winner of Nashville Star 3 will receive a major music recording contract with a top-level record label, and will go on to join the ranks of Jewell and Cotter, whose careers were both launched by Nashville Star. Jewell's debut CD, titled "Buddy Jewell" and produced by Clint Black, entered the Billboard Country Albums chart at #1 and later went gold (certifying sales of over 500,000 units.) His debut single, "Help Pour Out the Rain (Lacey's Song)," was a Top 5 hit on the Billboard country airplay chart, after making the highest charting debut by a solo country artist in over a decade. So far Cotter, despite being the more representative of the type of contestant is apparently planning to feature on Nashville Star 3, has enjoyed less success with his "Patient Man" debut album, but it still managed to debut at #4 on the Billboard Country Albums chart with sales of 34,000 units upon its release in July..

To date the network has announced the following national casting call dates and locations. For more information, please see or call 1-877-USA-NASH.

Long Beach, CA - October 25
Bakersfield, CA - October 26
Reno, NV - October 28
Hartford, CT - November 12
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - November 13
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Chicago, IL - November 14
Memphis, TN - November 16
Salt Lake City, UT - November 16
Charlotte, NC - November 18
Kansas City, MO - November 19
Little Rock, AR - November 19
Tulsa, OK - November 19
Nashville, TN - November 21
Branson, MO - November 22
Detroit, MI - November 22
Tallahassee, FL - November 26
Austin, TX - November 29
Mobile, AL - December 3
Lafayette, LA - December 10

Nashville Star is created by Reveille and executive produced by Ben Silverman (The Restaurant, The Biggest Loser, Blow Out) and H.T. Owens (The Restaurant, Blow Out). Jeff Boggs will executive produce in association with Reveille. The show is produced by Jon Small (Garth Brooks Live From Central Park, Billy Joel Live at Yankee Stadium) and his production company, Picture Vision along side co-executive producer Mark Koops (The Restaurant, Blow Out). Jason Cornwell serves as casting producer.