The American Star of 'Rock Star: Supernova'

In case there's any confusion, Ryan Star, a contestant on CBS' reality competition series "Rock Star: Supernova," is not the Ryan Starr who competed on the first season of "American Idol."

First, he's a man, and she's a woman. Second, it's his real name (or at least two-thirds of it).

"The girl's name was Tiffany Montgomery," Star recalls, "and in the third or fourth episode, they were like, 'Tiffany has an announcement. She's going to change her name.' Out of nowhere comes Ryan Starr, and I was like, 'What the ...? What just happened?'

"It was so bizarre. I got all these phone calls, 'What's going on, what's going on?' It was hilarious. Ever since then, I've been watching her slowly fade into obscurity. Now it's kind of cool that I'm doing this because, for once, people can say to her, 'Isn't that guy on "Rock Star" named Ryan Star?'"

Star reveals that he uses his first and middle name, which was bestowed on him at birth by his brother and sister.

He recalls, "They're like, 'We think he's going to be a singer. That's why we want it to be Star.' And, sure enough. It's really touching. I always say, 'Thanks for looking out.'"

As for his real last name, Star says, "It's a long Russian name. It would take too long to print it. It works perfectly that I have a great middle name."

Star is part of the ever-dwindling group of singers (two went last week during the Wednesday elimination show) competing to be the lead singer of the new band Supernova, composed of drummer Tommy Lee, formerly of Motley Crue, guitarist Gilby Clarke, who played with Guns 'N Roses, and bassist Jason Newsted, late of Metallica.

Of the original 15 contestants, eight are left -- four women and four men. But, as Star, a New Yorker, points out, "I'm the last American man on the show. There's one difference there. If this is the Olympics of rock 'n' roll, I'm the American hopeful."

He's right, since Magni Asgeirsson is from Iceland, Toby Rand is from Australia, and Lukas Rossi is from Canada.

As fans can see in the episode airing Tuesday, Aug. 15 -- or in the Internet webisode -- the singers accompanied Supernova to Las Vegas to get a look at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, where the newly minted band will perform on New Year's Eve.

The hopefuls also got to party with the band, most especially Lee -- decked out in a T-shirt emblazoned with a smiley face and the words "Mr. Happy" -- who proved a hard act to follow. According to the comments bandied back and forth at the Sunday, Aug. 13, taping of the Tuesday show -- most of which likely won't make it to air -- the clip shown of the Vegas trip was not even the tip of the party iceberg.

"Tommy is the real deal with the partying," Star says. "Jason and Gilby, I feel like they're done with the partying, they're done with the image. They really just want to rock. Tommy wants to do everything.

"He's like a little kid, man. He's so genuine. What you see is what you get. He's just a sweetheart."

While many of his cohorts took a long time to sleep off their Vegas revels, Star was up bright and early the next morning to look at the list of songs available for the Aug. 13 taping.

"I was the last man standing," he says. "I was the only guy up at 5:30 in the morning."

The tapings take far more than an hour, so a lot gets lost in editing. Unfortunately, the audience at home seldom gets to hear all of Newsted's thoughtful and detailed comments on each performance.

"So wise," Star says. "He's so careful and respectful, and it means the world to us. It really does. It just means the world to us. He's really listening, and it makes us feel respected and equal. ... I've learned some really wise things from a guy who's been doing this a long time."