'The Voice': Banter at the Burnetts' by the Beautiful Sea
On Sunday night (Aug. 12), I and several other journalists were invited to head out to Malibu to attend a press event and dinner for the new season of NBC's singing competition "The Voice," premiering on Sept. 10.
The setting was the lovely, shingle-style home of executive producer Mark Burnett and his wife, actress and producer Roma Downey (the children and Downey's Irish Wolfhounds were elsewhere).
With its Nantucket feel, lush green lawn and location on a bluff overlooking the blue Pacific, the house made a glorious backdrop for the event, which has to be the first press conference I've ever attended with the roar of the surf in the background (and the inevitable helicopters -- why are there so many dang helicopters in Los Angeles?).
It definitely was the first press conference I've ever attended that had pelicans fly overhead.
On hand were coaches Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton, Burnett, host Carson Daly and social-media expert Christina Milian.
There's a new twist in in the format of the show, and you can read about it here and here and here.
I was more interested in the random comments from, and (sometimes salty) exchanges among, the folks up on the stage. Here are a few of the choice tidbits:
Daly (commenting on Green's issue with having hot lights trained on his bald head): "I want to come back as Cee Lo's head in my next life. It gets more attention than most ... Can we lower the lights for Cee Lo's head?"
Burnett: "Now you see what my job is like. They don't listen to a f---ing word I say."
Green: "Can I say one thing?"
Burnett: "Yes, sir."
Green: "We usually take a very modest approach, but let me just show all of you that we know we have gradually become the best music television show on television. That's right. (He and Levine high-five.) Hands down."
Levine: "Damn right."
Green: "I just want to say that."
Levine: "We mean it."
Green: "And I'm Cee Lo Green. You can all quote me on that."
Burnett: "With green shoes."
Levine: "He's wearing green; he's serious."
Daly: "Literally Cee Lo Green."
Shelton: "I think the audience for this show isn't genre-specific. I mean, it's just fans of music and people who respect music. And I mean, I may not buy a Celine Dion record ..."
Levine: "Don't lie."
Daly: "Because you own them already."
Green: "Essentially this show will serve as music education as well."
Aguilera: "That's why I love being on this show. It's promoting and supporting upcoming talent that sometimes otherwise wouldn't get to really show their voice because ..."
Green: "That's true."
Aguilera: "...of preconceived notions and judgments. So that's what I love about this particular show. And being a part of it has been amazing just because ... it just brings back the honesty."
Green: "Here at 'The Voice,' our priorities are in the right order. The only show better than this show ..."
Levine: "That was presidential s**t right there."
Green: "You like that? Yeah. The only show on television better than this show is Mark Burnett's other show, 'Stars Earn Stripes.'"
(Click here and here for my stories on that.)
Green: "We're affectionate toward the industry at large. Like, we really, I believe, I think I can speak on behalf of everyone in saying that we really think that the industry, our world, needs better music. You know what I'm saying? So we definitely want to curate that."
Daly: "The first time we all met was in this big, crazy conference room at NBC. We all came in, and Christina wasn't feeling well. We were all there for a nucleus of a reason. I don't think we all knew why. But after about 10 minutes -- none of us knew Blake, of course. We all knew each other. Honestly, we'd all been at VMAs sitting next to each other, and then, 'Who's this Blake Shelton guy?'"
Shelton: "I had never even heard of me."
Levine: "I thought they were bringing Kenny Chesney."
Shelton: "Who the f**k am I?"
Levine: "We actually all live together."
Aguilera: "We live in a big house."
Levine: "It's like a little apartment, a cute little duplex..."
Burnett: "It's a new series."
Levine: "... down in Culver City."
Burnett: "A new series we're bringing ..."
Levine: "It's great. It's a wonderful little Spanish ..."
Burnett: "Not 'Big Brother.'"
Daly: "'Coaches' Cottage,' on NBC."
Burnett: "You do know that I'm never giving my credit card to you guys again, like I did the first time. They came back ..."
Levine: "That was a mistake."
Burnett: "When I gave my credit card and said, 'I think you guys should go out without us.' Adam said, 'That was the biggest mistake you ever made. Wait till you get the bill.'"
Levine: "Well, before you were done offering it to us, I had snagged it out of your hand and started running those ..."
Daly: "How much was it?"
Shelton: "In Adam's defense ..."
Levine: "A million dollars."
Shelton: "... he thought that NBC was paying for that not ... he didn't think it was you personally (Mark)."
Green: "I'm from Atlanta, Ga., and I came out here for the television show. So these are the only friends I have in L.A."
Green: "Other than that, I'm just ..."
Daly: "If you believe that?"
Levine: "This guy."
Green: "I'm just a piece of meat in some woman's bed, other than that."
Levine: "Put a pin it it, shelve it and talk about that later."
Shelton: "We're doing this for the right reasons. It actually takes us away from what we ultimately wanted to do with our lives, which is tour and make records. And so in order to do this, we gotta be doing it for the right reasons, and for something we all believe in. Otherwise, we're sitting here going, 'Oh, my God, I could have been playing in Chicago and making so much money.'"
Levine: "But it's not about the money, Blake, is it? It's about the fans."
Shelton: "Really, though ..."
Levine: "At least, for me, it is. I mean, I don't know, you're free to say what you want."
Shelton: "None of us came to L.A., ever, in our lives, I think, to be on television."
Levine: "You're right."
Levine: "I checked the ratings once, first time the show came out. Then I quickly caught myself..."
Shelton: "You realized it dominated?"
Levine: "And I was like, 'What the hell am I doing? I'm a singer. I'm checking the f***ing ratings? Have I lost my mind?' And I didn't ever do it again, thank God."
Burnett: "I tend to have been very lucky with shows getting renewed."
Levine: "We can see."
Aguilera: "I love your passion, Mark."
Levine: "Lovely spread you've got here."
Daly: "Look at his house. Let the man speak on it."
Burnett: "It's quality. Not every show makes it, but none of them are s**t. They're all good shows and some great shows. Like, this is a great show. And that's why they continue on. It's because of these people, what they're doing every day. Anyway, I think we should go and eat."