Friday, June 24, 2011

Drew Lachey Hosts “America Sings”


Drew Lachey’s “America Sings” tonight (9 p.m., GMC) is different from the other singing competition shows on TV today. All the performances are on tape — on submitted videos, not performances taped by the TV producers.

“This is how the people want to be seen,” Lachey explains.

That’s true. But it also gives the don’t-call-us-the Gospel Music Channel cable channel a singing competition show without the cost of producing ”American Idol” or “The Voice.”

Over 100 singing groups – including Cincinnati’s Southern Gateway Chorus (Lachey says he had nothing to do with the selections) – compete for $10,000 in the eight-week series. You’ll see all kinds of singing groups ranging from a capella and barbershop to flash mobs.

“We have some amazing talent. They searched all of North America to get the best singing groups possible. We’ve got gospel singers, doo-wop, quartets, a women’s choir from a Georgia prison and a 300-member church choir. It would be pretty hard to bring 300 people to our Los Angeles studio,” Lachey says.

The show’s casting team goes behind the scenes to interview the singing groups and tell their inspiring stories. They also sent cameras to the streets to get people to sing a classic song (“Georgia On My Mind,” “We Are Family”) that will provide comic relief in each episode. Sounds like the same formula “Idol” uses in the audition shows, sprinkling in the good with the bad.

“This is a fun way for me to stay involved with music,” says Lachey, a 1994 School for Creative & Performing Arts graduate. We spoke last week, before news broke yesteday with Drew saying his brother Nick could get married any day now.

After singing with brother Nick in 98°, he starred in “Rent” and “Spamalot” on Broadway. He was back in New York auditioning three weeks ago. He says ”live performance is my passion.” He and wife Lea wanted to teach music theater at SCPA this fall, but withdrew from the school last week when they couldn’t run the program their way.

“America Sings” viewers will vote on the top singers each week online or by phone. He says 15 finalists will appear in the eighth episode in August, probably on video.

If ratings are good, Lachey says he hopes GMC will order more seasons. “We have high hopes this will be picked up and run for many years,” he says.