It takes a village to create a pop song these days, with many singers, including Britney Spears and Rihanna, employing teams of songwriters to supply them with potential hits. With "Platinum Hit," Bravo tries to explain that process, while keeping the reality-show competition formula alive by giving the 12 songwriters tasks unlikely to happen in the real world. (On the debut, contestants have 30 minutes to write the chorus of a song about L.A.)

"Regardless of the stress and the bizarre challenges, whoever blossoms under those circumstances will probably be successful," Oceanside's Jackie Tohn said, calling from her current home in Silver Lake, Calif. "It's survival of the fittest."

Tohn, who has appeared on TV shows from "The Nanny" to "The Sopranos," as well as off-Broadway in "Jewtopia," is trying to focus on music these days, especially after reaching the Top 36 on "American Idol" in 2009.

"I'm a songwriter -- it's who I am," she said. "I want a record. I want to tour. That's what every contestant on this show is excited about. . . . What we all want is mainstream success."

MY SAY It's an odd concept, but it works pretty well. With Jewel as the host and former "Idol" judge Kara DioGuardi as "Platinum Hit's" lead judge, the show certainly has plenty of real-world credentials, and focusing on a song rather than a performance is an interesting twist.

The true test, of course, is in the cast. Between the determined Tohn, the diva Sonyae Elise, the overconfident rocker Nick Nittoli and the nice guys Johnny Marnell and Nevin James, there are plenty of characters to root for (and against).

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Oh, right, there's music, too. To be honest, though, a lot of the songs that were written in a few hours sound as unpolished as you would expect.

BOTTOM LINE The "Top Chef" of music

GRADE B