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If the only reason you look forward to summer is because of the blissful lack of singing competition shows, then you’re not going to want to hear this. Conversely, if you hate summers because of their lack of singing competitions, then do some high-fiving amongst yourselves. ABC is for once putting aside reality shows about entrepreneurs, makeovers and ways to leave game shows and is hitting the vocal talent bandwagon with Rising Star, a hugely popular Israeli series that will be the first joint production project from Keshet International (Homeland) and DC Media (So You Think You Can Dance).
The first talent import to hit U.S. airwaves since NBC reworked The Voice, Rising Star is either a sign of people’s further lack of an attention span, or an attempt to make watching the show live more important. The voting process has been completely revolutionized, and will push viewers to use their second screens via a dedicated app that allows for voting to occur not just as the show is airing, but during the actual performances. If the singer reaches a specific percentage of positive votes – 70% in Israel – then he or she gets to move on to the next round. And unlike American Idol and The Voice, Rising Star will avoid taped auditions, opting for live performances from the very first episode.
But the real gimmick is the more interesting one. Instead of standing in front of judges or an audience, the acts will perform behind a translucent floor-to-ceiling LED screen that will display images of home voters via their Facebook pages, and it will also show the performer a real-time tally of the voting, so they can tell exactly how well they’re doing as it happens. That sounds like it would be even more nerve-wracking than belting something out in front of Simon Cowell on The X Factor. I like this idea from the angle of making the challengers more aware of their situation, but it seems like it’d make DVR watching irrelevant since non-airtime votes won’t count. I realize some people watch competitions shows without the urge to show favoritism via phone, but late-watching voters still make up a good chunk of the viewing audience.
The show has been a ratings bonanza in Israel, and ABC won its own competition in landing the show, which Deadline reports it is looking to air during the summer of 2014 for a 10-episode run. The real question here is how long it takes other shows to try and match Rising Star’s lean on technology. For an idea of how that tech works, take a look at The Amazing Rabbis below with their not-too-shabby rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s hit “Sounds of Silence.”