'Biggest Loser' returns to NBC October 8th

Singer Ruben Studdard among celebrity contestants

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UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. - A second chances theme, new creative elements and 15 inspiring contestants, including former "American Idol" champion and recording star Ruben Studdard, highlight the 15th season of NBC's "The Biggest Loser," which premieres Tuesday, Oct. 8 (8-9 p.m. ET/PT).

Alison Sweeney hosts the series that features charismatic trainers Bob Harper, Jillian Michaels and Dolvett Quince, all of whom have helped contestants lose more than 26,600 lbs. collectively during 14 seasons on the motivational show. 

On the trainer side, new creative elements are being introduced this season that give Harper, Michaels and Quince more powerful roles. For the first time in the show's history, trainers sat in on casting sessions and helped select the contestants.

Also, the trainers will be empowered with a "trainer save," allowing them to save one eliminated contestant from going home.

In addition, "The Biggest Loser" will be moving to a one-hour format for the remainder of 2013, airing Tuesdays from 8-9 p.m. ET, with just a few two-hour telecasts airing in 2014 prior to the season's Feb. 4 finale.

This season's inspiring theme of "second chances" will be seen through the compelling stories of 15 contestants, each on unique journeys to reclaim their health and rewrite their futures. It has been a decade since Studdard was crowned the winner of "American Idol" and launched a successful music career. Now he returns to television on a very different stage, hoping to lose weight and learning how to live a healthy lifestyle. Studdard is this season's heaviest contestant at 462 lbs. 

Also featured this season will be David Brown, who lost his first wife to an almost decade-long battle with cancer and is now fighting for his life so he can be there for his daughters. Then there's Tanya Winfield, a single mom addicted to food who grew up with a teenage mom addicted to drugs. She's eager to break the cycle of addiction in her family. 

Also competing this season will be Olympic weightlifter Holley Mangold, hoping to get in the best shape possible for a second chance at gold in the 2016 Olympics; Matt Hooper, who  postponed his wedding to be on the show so he could give his fiancé the best physical version of himself; Craig Arrington, a 30-year-old father who lost his own dad to a heart attack at age 32 and wants to make sure he will be there longer for his kids; and Rachel Frederickson, who gave up scholarships and a promising career as a nationally ranked swimmer for a relationship that didn't last, and now wants another chance to create the life she dreams of for herself.

The new contestants competing for the $250,000 grand prize will be:

Fernanda Abarca (3D animation artist/cake sugar artist), 32, Montrose, Calif.
Craig Arrington (warehouse supervisor for pharmaceutical company), 30, Wilson, N.C.
Chelsea Arthurs (clinical research professional/event planner), 28, Raleigh, N.C.
David Brown (project manager for construction company), 43, Edmond, Okla.
Rachel Frederickson (voice-over artist), 24, Los Angeles
Hap Holmstead (sales consultant/entrepreneur), 26, Pleasant Grove, Utah
Matt Hooper (retail manager), 38, Georgetown, Mass.
Holley Mangold (Olympic weightlifter/caterer), 24, Columbus, Ohio
Jennifer Messer (clerk/bookkeeper), 42, Abingdon, Va.
Tuni Oguntala (brand strategist), 41, Clifton Park, N.Y.
Marie Pearl (senior staff accountant), 30, Springfield, Mo.
Bobby Saleem (attorney), 28, Chicago
Jay Sheets (marketing associate), 38, Farmington, Mo.
Ruben Studdard (singer), 35, Birmingham, Ala.
Tanya Winfield (chief operating officer of a restaurant franchise), 41, Plainfield, Ill.

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