by Jennifer Vineyard
Reality shows are the new auditions want a new singer for your group? Make the candidates try out on TV. But what if you're trying to replace someone who, well, died? You can go the "Rock Star: INXS" route, and declare that there's nothing tacky or disrespectful about what you're doing, and go full steam ahead. Or, you can try the more subdued singer search employed on "R U the Girl With T-Boz & Chilli."
The surviving members of TLC insist that they're not inviting unknowns to take the place of Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, who died three years ago in a car crash in Honduras (see "Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes Killed In Car Accident")."TLC is sitting right here, and Lisa's memory is in between," Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins said. "No one's getting in the group. That's not going to happen. We're not replacing her. Ever."
"This is not about a new member of TLC, it has nothing to do with that," Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas said. "She cannot be replaced. That's our sister. You can never replace a sister."
Bonds of sisterhood aside, TLC do want to continue recording, even if Lopes isn't around to join them. What they're looking to find is someone who can record a single with them that will appear on an upcoming greatest-hits album, and who can perform with them live in concert on the show's finale (see "TLC's T-Boz, Chilli Announce Details Of Their Reality Show"). They're not promising any more than that, but even for the one-off opportunity, they have some pretty high standards. "To be the girl, you have to be a triple threat for real," Watkins said. "You got to have an aura. Like you know certain people walk out onstage and they just don't have it? You got to have it. You got to captivate the audience."
"We call it 'the light,' " Thomas said. "Some people just have that light."
Having "the light" also means candidates need to do more than sing or rap. TLC want someone who can be a trendsetter as much as they were, in both fashion and dance moves. After all, these are the girls who sparked serious pajama envy with their "Creep" video. "Victoria's Secret stole our idea, girl!" Watkins laughed. "I think they owe us a big check."
Plus, they want to make sure potentials fit certain other criteria like meshing well with others, not being taller than they are, and, most importantly, "no stinking hoes," Watkins and Thomas both said. We think that means "project a positive image befitting of their legacy," but you'll have to watch the show to be sure. Oh, and the final condition? Being able to take a joke.
"We're going to give it to them," Watkins said. "I mean, to give a person a chance to pursue their dream, to get onstage with someone who has experience like us, who have been here for a minute, hello? Child! You got to go through some things. It's happening way faster for you girls than it did for us!"
"It's going to be TLC boot camp," Thomas said. "We're playing pranks on these girls. Oh, it's on. You'll see."
"R U the Girl With T-Boz & Chilli" debuts Wednesday (July 27) on UPN at 8 p.m. ET.
This report is provided by MTV News