This week, Disney Insider was on the set of ABC’s new singing competition show, Rising Star, as they prepared for their upcoming series premiere this Sunday, June 22 at 9|8c. We had a chance to tour the high-tech set and experience some of the features of Rising Star that will reinvent competition shows as we know them. We also got to chat with the show’s producers, as well as Josh Groban, who will host the show and act as mentor for the contestants.
First things first: we had to know how Rising Star will separate itself from the other singing competition shows we’ve already seen before. That answer was simple: “the wall.” (And the app that powers it.)
While a contestant is singing live on Rising Star, viewers are able to weigh in on their performance in real time via the Rising Star app, which makes everyone at home a judge. The results of this vote are displayed live on a giant wall of screens, alongside the opinions of the show’s experts, musicians Brad Paisley, Kesha, and Ludacris. If viewers love the performance, they’ll raise the wall for that contestant and push them through to the next round.
“This isn’t a ‘second screen’ experience, it is the experience,” said executive producer Nicolle Yaron. “The show doesn’t work without the app. The show is the app. The TV experience is the second screen experience. The three best parts of these shows are the amazing singing talent, what the talented and hilarious experts have to say, and the results. And on this show you get it every single act.”
Rising Star’s host, Josh Groban, was especially enthusiastic about working on a live show like this, where anything can and will happen. “What I’m excited about and what I think is the game changing element is the immediate intimacy of the connection between the singer and the audience, before anybody else gets a say. There is a feeling of togetherness there. It’s going to be very emotional for the people at home wanting that wall to rise or not wanting it to rise, and for all of us on set too.”
We had to ask him, is he also a little bit nervous that something might not go according to plan? “Am I really nervous? No. Am I excited and a little bit nervous? Absolutely! I think I wouldn’t be human if I wasn’t. The things that I would get really, really nervous about are partly what made me excited to do it in the first place. The new technology, maybe working, maybe not working. The liveness of it. How are the singers going to perform? Those are the things I really thrive on, and why I like hosting. Some people haven’t seen me do hosting stuff. Some people might be thinking ‘what is he doing hosting the show?’ But I thought it was a really fun experience, Not only do I get to use the singing experience that I have to mentor some of these people before they go out on stage, but it’s all the possible hitches that I think make it fun. You have to go into it with a little improvisation and a “yes” mentality. There is no ‘can we do it over?’”
With over 700,000 Twitter followers–a number that is sure to grow–Josh is something of a social media expert himself, and knows how important social media is to making audiences feel like they’re a part of something. As he sees it, Rising Star is embracing that concept to a degree that no one has ever tried before.
“It’s an immediate online experience,” Josh told us. “We have these kinds of show out there, and we also have people Tweeting and Facebooking constantly about these show as they are happening. But there has never been a combination of the two things. So that immediacy that people are craving has not been happening. People are texting and calling in, certain rates apply, and then they have to wait until next week; it almost seems archaic when you think of the fact that the technology that we have has been instant for so long. So hopefully, what I am looking forward to, as a singer, is that person that may not know they have a gift. The person that may not know they have that unique thing. I was lucky enough that America, when I was 18-years-old, said ‘I think he’s got that special thing.’ But nobody else in the industry thought that. So this is a chance for America to have that say.”
You can have your say when you tune in to Rising Star on ABC this Sunday, June 22, at 9|8c.