Justin Guarini is getting ready to make his Nashville debut on CMT’s Gone Country 3, which debuts Saturday at 8/7c.

The American Idol alum — who placed second to Kelly Clarkson in 2001 – will compete against Taylor Dayne, Mickey Dolenz, Richard Grieco, Sheila E., George Clinton and Tara Conner to release a single to country radio.

He got a helping hand when he met up with Diana DeGarmo, who starred with Maureen McCormick in the original Gone Country, in judge John Rich’s bar. What advice did she give him?

“I think if you can get through American Idol, you can get through anything,” the star, 30, who is planning a summer wedding, tells me. “Really. I think we both knew that.”

Although he had a great experience on Gone Country, don’t expect to catch Justin on Dancing With The Stars, even though fellow Idol Kellie Pickler has expressed interest.

“They wouldn’t let me because they don’t let Idols do Dancing With The Stars because they go up against one and other,” he tells me. “There’s an unspoken rule – at least publicly probably — about not allowing any Idols to go on.”

Ouch, that’s a heartbreaker for Miss Pickler.

While we’re at it, Justin is out to quash more dreams.  

“I think 2010 may be the last season of American Idol, so they may be doing a reunion show,” he tells me. “I believe 2010 is the last season of American Idol.”

Hurry up, hopefuls! Time is of the essence.

When Justin gets together with fellow Idols like Kelly, Carrie Underwood, David Cook, David Archuleta, Jordin Sparks, Chris Daughtry, Kellie and Clay Aiken, it’s easy to feel the love.

“You can’t help but to have a special bond because you’ve gone through something so insane together. It’s like a really cool, select club. You get to see what you experience was like compared to other people’s experiences.”

How has the show changed over the years?

“They can’t help but to grow, without a doubt, but  … it has completely expanded. It has gone to a small, postage-sized stamp stage with basically CD tracks to now a huge, revolving monolithic structure that has an orchestra and a band and all kinds of crazy explosions and lights and things going on. The production value has improved astronomically.”

 What’s his prized possession from his Idol days?

“I kept all my outfits – all those wacky things that I wore. Those are pretty much my prized possessions. I’ve got so much memorabilia – I’ve got the demo CDs that we cut at Capitol Records, I’ve got so much stuff. I plan to dedicate a room to it at some point once I can get to it.”   

He adds, “I had a pair of jeans that had splotches of paint on it – artistically done, of course. That was one of my favorite outfits. There were outfits that made me cringe, of course. There was one that was like a couch from the seventies. It was some strange couch from the seventies that I got. But I think it’s fun to look back at, and say ‘my God, I wore that?’”   

Gone Country 3 premieres Saturday at 8/7c on CMT.

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