The Emmy Awards take a hint from American Idol

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An American Idol-esque competition is part of the plan for Emmy night, when television actors and professional singers will duke it out in a battle of the ballads that is sure to make fans cheer and cringe. The stars will perform theme songs from popular TV shows, and fans will vote for their favorites either online or through text messages. Here's a look at the Emmy Idol contestants:

Veronica Mars star Kristen Bell will be the sole soloist of the evening with her own rendition of the Fame theme, while all other performances will be duets.

Megan Mullally of Will & Grace has been paired with The Apprentice's Donald Trump for the theme song to Green Acres, the city-mouse/country-mouse comedy from the 1960s.

William Shatner, who has released many a solo spoken-word album in his day, joins actual opera singer Frederica von Stade for the theme song to the original 1960s Star Trek, in which Shatner starred as Captain James T. Kirk.

Gary Dourdan of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation will sing "Movin' On Up," the theme from The Jeffersons, with neo-soul/R&B; artist Macy Gray.

Ken Elrich, executive producer of the Emmy ceremony, hopes the singing contest will attract and hold viewers. "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," he said. "There are certain television theme songs that are nearly as memorable as the shows connected to them."

In a questionably more appropriate collaboration, the ceremony will be opened by Earth, Wind, & Fire and the Black Eyed Peas performing the former group's song "September" as clips from the last TV season play on a giant screen.

In a nod to Hurricane Katrina's decimation of the Gulf Coast, each Emmy presenter and performer will be given a magnolia--the official state flower of both Mississippi and Louisiana. The three-hour ceremony will be peppered with suggestions for viewers who want to help with the relief effort.

The Emmy Awards ceremony will be broadcast on CBS Sunday, September 18, at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT, 7:00 p.m. CT. Ellen DeGeneres will host.

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