Fox has announced that The Next Great American Band, the network's new American Idol-like reality competition series that will search for the country's best up-and-coming musical group, will premiere with a special two-hour episode on Friday, October 19 at 8PM ET/PT.

The Next Great American Band will follow a similar format to Idol, which shouldn't be a surprise since both were created by Simon Fuller and are productions of 19 Entertainment and FremantleMedia North America.

The Next Great American Band will scour the country for musical groups of all ages, styles and genres, and 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. 

Home viewers will be able to vote for their favorite acts each week, as each band will perform either original music or covers of varied styles designed to challenge their musical abilities as well as their relationships. The Top 3 acts will then compete against one another for a recording contract during The Next Great American Band's finale.

Beginning with its second broadcast on Friday, October 26, The Next Great American Band will serve as a lead-in to Nashville, a new Laguna Beach-like docu-reality series that will follow a group of young people trying to make their mark in Nashville's music industry.  (Although Fox plans to premiere Nashville on Friday, September 14 at 9PM ET/PT, the network decided to delay The Next Great American Band's debut until after the network's October coverage of Major League Baseball's 2007 playoffs.)

While Friday nights have traditionally proven to be a ratings graveyard for younger-skewing programming like reality shows, newly-promoted Fox Entertainment chairman Peter Liguori was enthusiastic about attempting to buck that trend with Nashville and The Next Great American Band when the network unveiled its Fall 2007 primetime programming schedule back in May.

"Why Fridays?  It's kind of appropriate," Liguori told reporters during a conference call following the announcement in mid-May.  "You know, there's kind of a lot of older female shows on Friday nights, and we feel that there's a big opportunity to go a bit younger, provide some alternative choices, and do it with some real heart.  And I think both these show have some real heart."

Fuller and fellow Idol executive producers Nigel Lythgoe, Ken Warwick and Cecile Frot-Coutaz will serve as executive producers for The Next Great American Band.  As part of its November 2005 deal that renewed 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.