ABC's 'Rising Star' is a 'modern Colosseum,' no word on the lions
The show is based on a successful Israeli series. While a person sings, they are facing a giant screen that will fill up with faces of actual voters as the viewers use the voting app -- created, incidentally, by former Mossad agents -- to give a thumbs up or thumbs down to the singer. If the singer reaches the requisite percentage of yes votes, the screen will rise and the singer will be then performing in front of the judges and live studio audience.
If the singer does not reach the requisite threshold to advance, he or she is thrown to the lions. (Just kidding. Probably.)
"I think 'Rising Star' is really the next generation of reality shows. I mean, you literally vote live and decide whether the performers are going to stay on or go off live," says ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee, adding that it's compelling to watch whether the singer will be eliminated live or not.
"When we watched the first episode, the first singer comes out. She starts to sing, and she's good [but] she's not great. So you can see this live voting going on, and the numbers are going up," says Lee. "You've got to hit 70 [percent approval] in order for that huge wall of voters to rise. And one of the reasons people are voting is they can see their faces on the wall. The wall rises, and there are thousands of people behind it.
"So she gets to 62, 65, 66, 66, and you can see in her eyes, and you can tell she's not going to make 70, and then as she comes to realize it, it's really visceral. She doesn't get the 70. The wall doesn't lift, you know, and then the host takes her out. It's almost like a modern Colosseum. I mean, people are literally voting up or down."
Get ready, America. We're really only a few years away from the real-life "Hunger Games."
"Rising Star" has been successful in Israel and as such, has inked deals to launch versions in nearly a dozen other countries, including Britain, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Scandinavia, Hungary and Brazil.
But one problem smaller countries don't face is multiple time zones. How do voters in the Mountain and Pacific timezones participate in the show? Lee reassures reporters that the West Coast viewers won't be left out.
"On the West Coast, you're going to see a live feed of the singer, and you're going to be able to vote on it, but you're not going to see the whole show. You're not going to see whether they go through or they don't go through," says Lee, adding that another idea is to have each time zone be able to choose some of the singers that advance each week.
"For instance, if you have eight going through, two of those slots could remain for Central time, Mountain time, and [Pacific] time. So we think there are a number of ways that we can play that and have it follow across the country," says Lee.
"Rising Star" will be launching summer 2014, using the NBA Finals on ABC as a springboard.