Having already searched for America's next great singers, junior singers and dancers via American Idol, American Juniors and So You Think You Can Dance, Idol creator Simon Fuller is now turning his attention to musical groups. 

Fox has announced the launch of The Search for the Next Great American Band, a new reality competition series that will do just what its overly wordy title implies.

First revealed during Wednesday night's live American Idol sixth season broadcast that revealed Idol 6's Top 3 finalistsThe Search for the Next Great American Band will scour the country for musical groups of all ages, styles and genres.  Following a round of auditions, yet-to-be-announced judges will whittle the hopefuls to 10 semifinalists who will then have the opportunity to perform in-front of a live studio audience.

During each week of the competition, the musical acts will be presented challenges in the form of various musical themes, ala Idol, Juniors and So You Think You Can Dance.  Similar to the aforementioned shows, weekly home viewer voting will determine which bands get to stay in the competition and which are sent back to their garage, VFW hall or wherever they were performing prior to the show.  The Top 3 acts will then compete against one another for a recording contract.

The Search for the Next Great American Band was created by Fuller and is being produced by FreemantleMedia North America and Fuller's 19 Entertainment, the same companies behind Idol.  Fuller and Idol executive producers Nigel Lythgoe, Ken Warwick and Cecile Frot-Coutaz will also serve as executive producers for the new show.  As part of its November 2005 deal that renewed American Idol through at least an eighth season, Fox had agreed to order two additional new shows produced by 19 Entertainment and FremantleMedia sometime during the next five years.

If The Search for the Next Great American Band seems like a long-winded title, don't fret -- it's just the show's "working title."  Back in 2002, American Idol was originally announced under the title American Idol: The Search for a Superstar, so chances are The Search for the Next Great American Band will -- assuming Dick Clark, whose production company already produces So You Think You Can Dance along with 19 Entertainment, doesn't cry American Bandstand infringement -- eventually be shortened to American Band.

A premiere date for the series has yet to be announced, however Frot-Coutaz told Daily Variety the current goal is to air American Band this fall.  Fox is scheduled to formally announce its Fall 2007 broadcast schedule during next week's "upfront" advertiser presentations.  

According to Frot-Coutaz, Idol's producers first conceived of American Band after last year's Idol season ended.  "We sort of thought it was a no-brainer and asked ourselves why we hadn't thought of it before," Frot-Coutaz told Variety. "It's a natural extension of Idol."

While Frot-Coutaz admits the new show will include "Idol elements," it isn't expected to include some of Idol's most recognizable elements -- namely no Simon Cowell, no Ryan Seacrest (who also hosted Fox's Summer 2003 American Juniors flop), and (at least for now) no standalone results show.  "Everybody wants to position this as its own franchise," Frot-Coutaz told Variety.

American Band application information is available on Idol's website.