LOS ANGELES - The Emmy Awards will be singing a different tune at this month's ceremony, and it could be a classic. In an "American Idol"-style competition, stars and singers ranging from William Shatner to Donald Trump to Frederica von Stade will perform themes from TV series, with viewers able to pick their favorite song via online or text-message voting.
Kristen Bell ("Veronica Mars") will be the only solo performer, with her version of the "Fame" theme, while others will sing duets.
The dynamic duos announced by CBS and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the contest tagged "Emmy Idol":
- William Shatner ("Boston Legal") and opera's von Stade with the theme from Shatner's 1960s series "Star Trek."
- Megan Mullally ("Will & Grace") and Trump ("The Apprentice") with the "Green Acres" tune.
- Gary Dourdan (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation") and R&B artist Macy Gray with "Movin' On Up" from "The Jeffersons."
"There are certain television theme songs that are nearly as memorable as the shows connected to them," said Ken Ehrlich, the ceremony's executive producer.
"By jogging memories as well as creating wonderful moments by having them performed on this year's Emmy show, we think we're giving viewers one more reason to tune in and be entertained," Ehrlich said in a weekend statement.
The Sept. 18 ceremony on CBS will open with Earth, Wind & Fire performing its song "September" along with the Black Eyed Peas, the number serving as an accompaniment to clips of memorable moments from the past season.
While music is an integral part of the Academy Awards, which feature nominated movie songs, it's not typically key to the ceremony honoring the best of television.
Musical entertainment in an awards ceremony can be a risky proposition. The best-known example: Rob Lowe and a performer dressed as Snow White dancing in an opening number for the 1995 Oscars was widely panned as dreadful.
Meanwhile, in honor of the victims of Hurricane Katrina, Ehrlich said all Emmy presenters and performers will be given magnolias, the state flower of both Louisiana and Mississippi. In addition, he said information will be provided throughout the three-hour telecast on how viewers can support the massive recovery effort.
Emmy host Ellen DeGeneres, who is a Louisiana native, last week spoke emotionally about loses her family suffered from Katrina. She last hosted the Emmys in 2001, when she was praised for striking just the right tone for the ceremony, which had been delayed twice in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.