In Search Of Divas and Ratings

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There has never been a better time for a girl with an Aretha cover and a dream. According to a TIME/CNN poll, 7% of Americans think they'd be a good contestant on American Idol, and 23% say they have a friend or family member who would. Now they will have plenty of chances: several American Idol imitators are in the works. In the spirit of the show's acid host Simon Cowell, here's our honest preview:

STAR SEARCH Early next year CBS will bring back the talent-hunt show that gave us Britney Spears and Sinbad, minus former host Ed McMahon and — four stars if you even remember it — the acting competition. It's hard to freshen up an old number like that.

NASHVILLE STAR Aspiring Garths and Shanias must perform original songs and share a house in Nashville on this country-music show, which airs early next year on USA. Choosing new material shows spunk, but can these crooners write?

TODAY'S SUPERSTAR More than 4,000 audition tapes submitted to NBC's Today will be winnowed to six finalists this week. The winner gets a concert appearance on the show and a recording session. Too much of a stretch: try a fallback, like news and cooking segments.

MAKING THE BAND 2 It didn't set the ratings on fire last season , but with Idol fever, MTV figures it's worth another try. This time, P. Diddy runs a hip-hop boot camp. Diddy hogs the spotlight — but at least there's one real star onstage.

AMERICAN IDOL, SEASON TWO Aspirants lined up overnight last week for the show's New York City auditions. There will be one new judge