Gary Susman
June 15, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

When reality guru Mark Burnett (”Survivor,” ”The Apprentice”) said he was going to find the lead singer for a rock band for his upcoming show ”Rock Star,” he said that the group in question would be an existing, well-known band. Turns out that the musicians are multiplatinum Aussie veterans INXS, who have been without a full-time frontman since Michael Hutchence killed himself in 1997. According to Billboard, ”Rock Star” will audition potential replacements for Hutchence across five continents, with band members and industry experts picking a winner, who will record a new album with INXS and then lead them on a world tour.

”I am a longtime fan of INXS and feel very fortunate that INXS approached us with this idea and have entrusted us with their future,” Burnett said in a statement posted Monday on INXS’ website. ”I feel there’s room on TV for more than one great music-based show, and I feel that rock music has been totally left out of that mix,” he said, an apparent reference to the more pop-oriented ”American Idol.” (”Idol” airs on Fox, with which Burnett has been feuding since Fox announced it would launch its own reality boxing show to compete with Burnett’s upcoming ”The Contender” on NBC. This despite the fact that Fox is airing Burnett’s current new reality show, ”The Casino.”) So far, no network has yet picked up the rights to ”Rock Star.”

Since Hutchence died, INXS hasn’t recorded a new album, though the band has used singer Jon Stevens during its occasional live performances, including a 2002 tour. ”After Michael died, we wanted to search the world for a new singer but didn’t know how we could effectively do that,” INXS guitarist Tim Farriss said in the band’s statement. ”By having Mark… embrace the concept, we’ve now found a fantastic way to make that happen.” Agreed keyboardist Andrew Farriss, ”Times have changed and television is now a valued medium to reach people all over the world. Mark’s record speaks for itself — he is an amazing producer and we are confident that together we are going to create something very different and very special.”

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