First, try a basic composition with nothing more than an animated solid. If that works then open up your problem composition, press the u key twice to reveal all modified properties of all layers and look for the FX switch. Turn off all FX in all layers, then turn them on one at a time and try a preview until you find the one that's causing the crash. Be sure and take notes so you will remember where you are. If it's crashing on the first frame then pay particular attention to the layers that are visible on the first frame.
I'll give it a shot, Rick. The problem did start when I added fx (mostly color correction), but I did turn all the effects off going over each clip at a time. I can certainly double-check with the double-U command.
One thing that helped was pulling the song out. It was too long for the template's run-time and contributed greatly to the crash.
Also as Rick said not using effects helped.
I still deal with crashes, but cleaning the cache often helps.
can you say mp3? try transcoding it into a .wav before importing/replacing
also clear your cache.
AE usually doesn't blow up using simple effects, if it did, nobody would work! are they standard adobe effects? or red giant.