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ABC’s ‘Rising Star’ Juggles Time Zones to Allow For Live Voting

ABC’s new talent competition series “Rising Star” revolves around real-time live voting by viewers to determine which singers advance through the various rounds.

The show has been a hit in Israel and other territories, but the big question for the U.S. rendition is how producers would grapple with the pesky issue of time zone differences across the vast expanse of the 50 states.

The solution derived by exec producers Ken Warwick and Nicolle Yaron is to work live cut-ins to the West Coast airing that would reflect voting done by left-coast viewers. The show, set to premiere on Sunday June 22, will air live in most of the country — 9-11 p.m. ET, 8-10 p.m. CT and 7-9 p.m. MT — to accommodate the real-time voting format. West Coast viewers will still be able to influence some of the competition by tipping the scales for contestants who may not get enough votes in the East Coast airing to advance.

According to the “Rising Star” rulebook, contestants have to have a thumbs-up from 70% of those voting to advance to the next round.

Yaron said they spent time studying how sports and news producers handle time-zone challenges and decided that live cut-ins were the way to go. “Rising Star” will be produced out of L.A., allowing producers and talent to adjust on the fly during the West Coast airing. ABC affiliates in Mountain time zones agreed to shift their time slot back an hour in view of the format.

“The clever thing with this show is that there’s no waiting until the end of the show to go to the phones,” Warwick, an “American Idol” alum said. “When you hit your app with yes or no, the result hits the broadcast screen within one and a half seconds. By the time the kid finishes the song, we’ll know whether (he or she) is moving on.”



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