"The Bachelor" (search) is changing the rules.
On the latest edition of ABC's popular dating show, two men, Jay Overbye and Byron Velvick, will compete for a chance to land the coveted starring role (debuting Sept. 22).
This time, the series' 25 bachelorettes will meet the two bache lors and then choose one to continue on for the rest of the show. In the past, the bachelor meets the 25 potential mates and votes a few off during the first episode.
"We always had toyed with the idea of letting the country vote for who the next bachelor would be," executive producer Mike Fleiss told The New York Post yesterday. "But we kept worrying, 'What if the wrong guy is cast or picked?' It seemed safer to have these two guys coming forward and let the women determine which one they wanted to spend time with.
"We also thought it would increase our odds of making a love connection," said Fleiss. "Because the guy is someone that the women picked."
Other "firsts" for the new season will include the return of two former bachelorettes and a musical performance by Grammy-winner Brandy (search).
The bachelor will also live in the same mansion with the women vying to win his heart. In the past he's lived in a luxe house nearby.
Overbye, 40, is a real estate broker from New Jersey who used to work in public relations and advertising for the Cleveland Indians (search). He's an entrepreneur and a male model.
Velvick, also 40, is divorced and a two-time U.S. champ on the professional bass-fishing circuit.
Since it's debut in 2002, "The Bachelor" (and later, "The Bachelorette" (search)) has become one of ABC's most-watched shows. Although most of the couples who've met on the show have broken up afterwards, contestants Trista Rehn (search) and Ryan Sutter (search) got married last year on a special wedding edition of the program, which aired in prime time on ABC.