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Who's The Next Britney?

Before Britney Spears was one of the hottest acts on the global stage, she was a talented 10-year-old hoping to beat the competition on "Star Search."

And believe it or not, Britney's ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake also competed when he was 11. Maybe Britney should have remembered her fateful words from a 1991 show:

"Do you have a boyfriend?" asked Ed McMahon.

"No, Sir," answered Britney.

"Why not?" he asked.

"They're mean," she exclaimed.

On Wednesday, Jan. 8, on Stage Four of the Hollywood Center studios, National Correspondent Hattie Kauffman reports, the "Britneys" and "Justins" of tomorrow will have their shot at stardom. But unlike the previous version of the show, the competition is now live.

"I think the great thing about "Star Search" is, it's a blend of a traditional variety show, plus a reality show. Because, we've got all these different categories, we got adult singers, we got kid singers, we got comics, we've got models," says executive producer Andrew Golder.

"And every commercial break, we've got a vote-out. We go to commercial, we're going to find out whether singer "A" or singer "B" is going to win. Someone's moving on, someone's going home," he adds.

But even "Star Search" losers go on to "winning" careers. Alanis Morissette, Destiny's Child, LeAnn Rimes, Christina Aguilera, Dennis Miller, Brad Garrett, Drew Carey, Martin Lawrence and Ray Romano walked away from "Star Search" empty handed.

One man who sees a clear winner in "Star Search" is billionaire businessman and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. His big-money investment was a key factor in bringing the show back to prime time.

"'Star Search' has an amazing brand. And people have an amazing propensity to want to be stars. You put the two together, and we've been able to attract an amazing crowd of talented people," Cuban says. "People will see what it's about because they want to compare it with 'American Idol.' But I think people will stay because of the excitement it generates, and the uniqueness of it."

So maybe some of the starry-eyed contestants will become a "Star Search" winner, following in the footsteps of others who did take the top prize: 14-year-old Usher, a "big-haired" Jenny Jones, a stand-up Rosie O'Donnell and the future "King of Queens," Kevin James.

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