Dalton Ross
May 14, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Feeling a bit William Hung-over? On May 17 at 9 p.m., The WB debuts Superstar USA, a wicked talent-competition spoof targeting awful singers who don’t realize they are awful. The tone-deaf dupes are led to believe they’re fantastic by judges like Tone Loc and Vitamin C, who secretly send through the worst vocalists — and the hoax isn’t revealed until the winner is crowned. We asked executive producer Mike Fleiss (The Bachelor) to defend this dastardly reality TV deed.

Please explain to me how this is not the meanest show in the history of television.

Can’t do it. It’s definitely mean. But these people want to be stars, so we’re giving them what they want, just not for the reason they think.

So do you have, like, a reserved parking spot in hell?

Oh, man, I own the parking garage!

You’re giving away $100,000 to a horrible singer, but isn’t that a little unfair considering Britney Spears gets paid millions for doing the exact same thing?

We have a theory that we’re gonna be able to turn our winner into a legitimate singer. We know what kind of stuff they can do in a studio — listen to Paula Abdul’s albums!

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