Let's try not to call this "Simian Idol," but the hunt for a chattering Chimpanzee who may award some lucky winner a $1 billion prize next month is now in full swing.

The chimp will star in Pepsi's "Play for a Billion," in mid-September, a special sponsored by the soft-drink manufacturer on The WB Network.

"We have five potential candidates, mostly from Orlando and one or two from Miami," producer Matti Leshem said. "Although I understand that Miami chimps are a little more flamboyant." (Insert laugh track here.)

For the show, 1,000 contestants will be chosen at random out of a Pepsi sweepstakes that kicked off on May 1.

The 1,000 will then be invited to appear on a live broadcast Sept. 14, and by a drawing, be whittled down to just 10.

The 10 then get the chance to compete in a game of what Pepsi describes as "chance and guts" and play for a guaranteed $1 million.

The winner of the $1 million - who keeps the prize no matter what - will then have a 1-in-1000 chance to win the $1 billion in a lottery in which the numbers will be chosen at random by — ta da! — a chimp.

As originally conceived, the astonishing plan to give away a $1 billion prize featured using a tiny Capuchin monkey to do the deed.

But Leshem said he's opting for a chimp — a member of the ape family - because a monkey would have been too small for the finale he planned.

Leshem declined to describe exactly how the chimp will pick the winner.

In a nutshell, the trainers of the candidates for the job are given instructions by producers about exactly what they want the chimp to do. After a few days the trainer sends producers a video and if they like what they see the chimp is called in for a live audition.

"We want to know if the chimp can handle the pressure," says Leshem.