Ever since ABC snapped up hot Israeli format Rising Star in November, the network has faced the challenge of adjusting the interactive talent competition — which incorporates live voting by viewers via an app — to the U.S.’ multiple time zones. With three weeks to go before Rising Star‘s June 22 premiere with Brad Paisley, Kesha and Ludacris as experts, Josh Groban as host and a surprise performance, ABC, production company Keshet DCP and executive producers Ken Warwick and Nicolle Yaron have settled on changes to the format that allow viewers in across the U.S. to vote in real time. In an interview this morning, former American Idol exec producer Warwick and Yaron (The Voice) explained how it will work.
In Rising Star, contestants are separated from the studio audience and the judges by a translucent floor-to-ceiling LED screen where images of voters at home appear live, and the singer can see how the vote tally is growing during the performance. The screen goes up and the performer sees the experts (and the audience) only if they reach a voting threshold of 70%. The show will air simultaneously in the Eastern, Central and Mountain time zones, from 9-11 PM on the East Coast, 8-10 PM Central and 7-9 PM Mountain time. West Coast viewers will watch the East Coast show from 9-11 PM with added live elements as they vote in real time. While the performances and wall with pictures the contestants see will be the same, the screen will feature both the East Coast and West Coast vote bars as they go up, with all West Coast votes submitted via the app added within 1.5 seconds.
Additionally, a performer will be able to move onto the next round if he or she passes the 70% threshold in at least one time zone. So those who didn’t go through in the East Coast telecast will stay in the studio to watch the West Coast show. If any of them reach 70%, there will be live cut-ins with their reaction. “We will be providing the West Coast with exactly the same voting experience as well as enhanced broadcast experience,” Yaron said. She and Warwick come from the biggest singing competition series, Idol and The Voice. How are things different on Rising Star? “It’s a lot more technical,” Warwick said. “Every day there is talk about things like IPS systems, your brain explodes.”