Matt Sersion/Oxygen
August 22, 2011 at 08:23 PM EDT

Oxygen is putting the finishing touches on plans to officially start casting for a second season of The Glee Project, with a formal renewal of the reality breakout expected relatively soon-ish.

With ratings for the contest rising throughout its debut season and last night’s finale delivering a crowning preliminary return of 1.2 million viewers, it’s no surprise Oxygen intends to bring back the show. The network dropped casting information notices into the last two episodes of the program, which have yielded nearly 50,000 email requests for more information, according to an insider.

We’re told formal casting will likely start this fall. Unlike the first season, which had two casting calls, season 2 is expected to have four or five open castings around the country. Oxygen is also arranging talent to appear at the castings. (Season 1 castings had Darren Criss and Chord Overstreet.)

One major detail Oxygen might not be able to reveal anytime soon, however, is what the prize will be for the winner of season two. Not one but four Glee Project finalists won roles in the upcoming third season of the Fox hit. But Glee isn’t renewed for a fourth season. (Broadcasters generally don’t renew shows until after the start of the new calendar year.) And as producers on the Glee Project made clear at critics press tour last month, it’s pretty tough to give away a prize appearance on a season that doesn’t officially have a green light. That said, a renewal on Glee Project before Glee is renewed seems like a rather safe bet: Does anybody  expect a pop culture phenomenon like Glee to not continue at least another season?

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