BURBANK, Calif. -– February 19, 2003 -– Mario Lopez (“The Other Half”) has been named host of NBC’s “America’s Most Talented Kid,” a new reality series that will feature kids from across the country competing head-to-head in a talent competition. The announcement was made by Jeff Gaspin, Executive Vice President, Alternative Series, Longform and Program Strategy, NBC Entertainment.

“Mario brings a youthful and inquisitive vitality to match his charm,” said Gaspin. “This makes him a perfect fit for dealing with bright and talented kids, especially considering he was once a child star himself.”

Each week, “America’s Most Talented Kid” will highlight the individual talent of 9 kids, who will be scored by a panel of celebrity judges. The judges will pick one winner from each age category (3-7, 8-12 and 13-15), resulting in a total of three finalists at the end of each show. These winners will then advance to the final round in Los Angeles to compete for the grand prize of a large cash prize.

Lopez brings a bachelor's point-of-view to NBC Enterprises & Syndication's “The Other Half,” now in its second season (Lopez will continue in his role as one of the series’ co-hosts). Although widely known for his role as Slater, the self-assured high-school athlete on the former Saturday-morning series “Saved by the Bell” and primetime’s “Saved by the Bell: The College Years,” Lopez has developed into one of the fastest-rising stars on television and film. He recently co-produced and starred in the upcoming independent film “The Courier,” in which he portrays a college student who takes a courier job to help with tuition and finds himself unwittingly involved in a drug smuggling ring. The film also stars Nancy O'Dell from “Access Hollywood.”

Born in San Diego, Lopez' first professional role was the younger brother on the comedy series “A.K.A. Pablo.” After “Saved by the Bell,” Lopez also starred on the syndicated drama “Pacific Blue” as police officer Bobby Cruz.

Lopez also served as host of the syndicated series “Name Your Adventure” and portrayed Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis in the TV movie “Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story.” His feature-film credits include “Colors” and “Depraved,” as well as a starring role in the 1999 independent film “Eastside.” Lopez can also be seen opposite Jon Seda in the upcoming independent film “Rikki the Pig” -- an adaptation of William Shakespeare's classic tragedy "Richard III," now set in the streets of East Los Angeles.

“America’s Most Talented Kid” will also include behind-the-scenes footage of the audition process. Four teams of casting directors for “America’s Most Talented Kid” began a talent search across the nation in February in Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Nashville, Orlando, Denver, and Kansas City. Auditions will continue in New Orleans, Boston, Charlotte and Dallas on February 22. For more information on these auditions, viewers can call the toll-free number, 888/423-9119.

“America’s Most Talented Kid” is a production of NBC Studios. Stuart Krasnow (“Dog Eat Dog,” “Weakest Link”) serves as the executive producer, and Peter Johansen (“The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn,” “The Martin Short Show”) co-executive produces.