Inspired by the musical comedy "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," in 2007, TV producers Phil Gurin and Bob Horowitz starting pitching the notion of a karaoke-style 'singing bee' to networks around the globe. First the idea was sold to ITV, and after it began airing in the U.K., 30 other countries picked up the format.
Domestically, the path wasn't as easy. After first being rejected by NBC, the network then picked up the show for a summer and fall run in 2007, after which it wasn't renewed.
Gurin continued pitching the format, and on June 16 it gets a second chance on CMT. The sneak peek of "The Singing Bee" premieres tonight after the CMT Awards at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT. The next airing will be Saturday, June 20 at 10 p.m. ET/PT; and then it will be shown on Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on successive weeks.
There are 10 one-hour episodes set to air, and actress Melissa Peterman ("Reba") stars as the host.
Songs featured on the show will be 60% country, with the remaining amount popular favorites from all genres. The format is simple: as the music plays, contestants must guess what lyrics come next in the song. All the songs are played live in-house by the show's musical director, Steve Dorff, and the house band, the Beehive.
Unlike "American Idol," singing talent will not be taken into account with "The Singing Bee"-just accuracy. (The show even has "You don't have to sing it well, you just have to sing it right" as its catchphrase.) "It's not meant to be a talent competition, in any form," Gurin says. "This is meant for people who love the music."
And thanks to the collaborative efforts of CMT, the Gurin Company and fellow producer JUMA Entertainment, Gurin is thrilled that his show getting a second chance in the U.S. "You never give up on something you have a passion for," he says. "It starts with the idea, and you have to have the talent to back it up and the passion to keep pushing until it gets a hold."