Oxygen's Glee Project Searches for Next Brittany...

Or Santana. Or Blaine. Or even Mike Chang.

Basically, The Glee Project is “serious about growing talent” for Season 3 of its Fox counterpart, and with Glee bosses Ryan Murphy and Dante Di Loreto at the helm, that’s exactly what they intend to do.

First thing’s first: The Glee Project is not Glee. It is a reality series that aims to find the next big Glee star, via MySpace submissions and lots and lots of casting calls.

“We’re very serious about growing talent,” Di Loreto said Thursday at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour. “If you look at Heather Morris, Naya Rivera, Harry Shum Jr… [they] all started as guest stars and grew as their characters developed into series regulars.”

The man responsible for finding the next Gleek is none other than Glee‘s own casting director, Robert Ulrich. “I’m casting Project in the exact same manner that I approach Glee,” he explained. “It started with seeing 34,000 people on MySpace with a team. Then I had industry auditions in Los Angeles and saw industry people from all over the world on tape. And then we had an open call in Chicago and an open call in Fort Worth. So it’s about 40,000 people that I’ve now narrowed down to about 80-85, and at the end of that they’ll compete three days next week. After that, we will have a cast of about 12.”

In keeping with Glee‘s theme of acceptance and tolerance, Ulrich says that the “Top 85 are a wonderful mix of all diversity, all kinds of people, including people with disabilities.”

But overall, the goal of the series is not to deliver the crazy reality-show antics that we’ve come to know and love. Rather The Glee Project aims to find another Darren Criss-type phenomenon to join Glee for about seven episodes next season.

“At the end of this,” says executive producer Michael Davies, “we’re going to have one person who’s going to have a role on Glee, so they have to deserve that role.”

The Glee Project premieres this summer on Oxygen. Are you excited to find the next Gleek?