Erik S. Lesser/AP Photo
Gary Susman
December 20, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

When the surviving members of TLC recently announced the details of their upcoming UPN reality competition series, in which aspiring performers will audition for a chance to fill the shoes of the late Lisa ”Left Eye” Lopes, some fans worried that TLC was looking for a permanent replacement for the rapper, who died in a 2002 car crash. ”We want to find someone with the right chemistry and magic to work with us,” Rozonda ”Chilli” Thomas and Tionne ”T-Boz” Watkins said in a statement. ”We have been blessed with great success, and this is a chance for our fans to join us as we give someone a once in a lifetime opportunity to fulfill their dream.”

But the key phrase there is ”once in a lifetime.” Performing with TLC will be a one-shot deal for the winner of the eight-week contest, to be chronicled in the 2005 series R U the Girl with T-Boz and Chilli. Or maybe a two-shot deal: There will be a concert appearance and a recording session for one song on an upcoming greatest hits CD.

”Nothing has changed. We’re not replacing Lisa,” Chilli tells the Associated Press. ”We’re not looking for a new member. We started out with our fans and it’s all about our greatest hits. Basically, we are trying to give back to our fans and find one girl and give her a chance of a lifetime, to do one last performance with TLC.” Adds T-Boz: ”We kind of call it, like, fan appreciation. We started together and we want to end it together, and that’s something that Lisa would have been fond of.”

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