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Since ABC first bought the stateside rights to hit Israeli singing competition Rising Star, the looming concern has been how the format of real-time viewer voting will translate to the U.S. and its four contiguous time zones.
A month out from the June 22 premiere, executive producers Ken Warwick (American Idol) and Nicolle Yaron (The Voice) spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about how they’re handling the quandary, and the biggest part of the solution is that the show will be airing live in a vast majority of the country. Eastern (9-11 p.m.), Central (8-10 p.m.) and Mountain (7-9 p.m.) time zones will all air Rising Star live on Sunday nights — and in Pacific time, even Arizona will be airing the show live starting at the early hour of 6 p.m.
As for the rest of the electorate, ABC will tweak the West Coast airings to show real-time voting particular to those viewers and a comparison to how the earlier time zones voted. In an instance where a contestant who didn’t make it through to the next round based on the eastern three-quarters of the country’s votes — 70 percent of voters have to approve via the Rising Star app — ends up faring better with the West Coast crowd, they’ll still go through.
“Everyone can vote and take part in the process,” says Warwick. “On the West Coast, they have their own voting bar. That means that if somebody on the East Coast gets 65 percent, and doesn’t go through, and then the West Coast votes over 70 percent, that [contestant] will go through. We’ll put up a graphic as it happens.”
Regardless of failure or success, each singer will meet with the Rising Star panel of experts (Kesha, Ludacris and Brad Paisley) after their performance. And during the critique, any individual spared by a West Coast vote will appear in a live hit on some corner of the screen, reacting to the good news.
But neither Warwick or Yaron expect that will ever happen. “We met with mathematicians and statisticians,” says Yaron. “The chances of there being a big difference are apparently very small. We have this in place just in case, but we don’t know that we’ll ever have to use it.”
One aspect of the Rising Star experience that won’t likely translate for those in Pacific time is seeing their faces appear on the show’s signature wall of approval. Voters whose pictures are pulled from the app and put into the telecast will be mined from those who vote during the live telecast.
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