Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.
In today’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV Debra Birnbaum talks with the creative team of “The Voice” — executive producer Mark Burnett, host Carson Daly, and season 13’s coaches, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton.
This may be the reality series’ 13th season, but the team behind the show — which just won its fourth Emmy for reality-competition series — says they couldn’t feel more lucky. “Thirteen is officially my lucky number and always has been my whole life,” Burnett says. “It’s just a great show: part talent competition, part family sitcom.”
He calls Daly the “leader” — “Traffic cop might be a better analogy,” quips Daly.
But the two say the show succeeds because of the chemistry between all of the coaches, even as they rotate new names into those revolving chairs. “Whether it’s Usher, Shakira, or Pharrell, they’re great people, they really want to help,” Daly says. “You can’t fake that in television. We could shoot all day long, but they’re really in it for the right reasons. You wouldn’t have the warmth that you feel on the show.”
That’s what they credit with keeping them ahead of the competition, even with a reboot of “American Idol” looming next season. Burnett points to Cyrus returning to this season, and Hudson taking her first turn in the chairs in the American version (she did a stint in the U.K.). While Miley “totally understands how to work with the boys,” he says, “Jennifer can totally stand on her own.”
“They all want to win,” Burnett says. “It’s like a family playing a board game. It’s all fun when you’re a family, but people want to win. And they’re really going to go for it.”
And of course there’s the ongoing rivalry between Levine and Shelton, whose career has been transformed by the show. “We joke about it to this day: when he walked in, none of us knew who he was,” recalls Daly. “And here he is, he’s had the biggest bounce of anybody on the show. He’s one of the biggest stars in the world, chiefly because of ‘The Voice.’ The guy is just television gold. He’s a star.”
New coach Hudson has fit right in — joking amiably with Shelton during their section of the podcast. “We love her, but we’re not helping her,” Shelton says. “We already know that she can win. She won her first season in the U.K. so we’re not going to give her a foot in the door.”
Counters Hudson: “That’s OK. Because team JHud is going to creep right on in there, and they won’t know what hit ’em. Bam!”
That said, being new gave her an advantage in the blind auditions, reports Shelton. “I would say she ruled the roost there,” he says. “But I chalk that up to her being new and shiny and people were like, ‘Ooh, what’s she going to be like?’ Instead of just going with the guy they know they can win with.”
Another advantage she has: She’s been in the contestants’ shoes, having gone through the experience on “American Idol.” “You know what, I would never have made it through something with this much pressure and this much competition,” Shelton says.
In the final section of the podcast, Cyrus and Levine banter as well, joking about rumors of fighting. “We just team up against Blake,” Cyrus jokes.
“They’re really worried about their ratings because of the lack of infighting,” says Levine – who then taunts Cyrus into saying “I hate Adam Levine.” Counters Levine with a laugh, “Cyrus just sucks.”
Instead they say they all just get along and respect each other — unlike other shows.
“When I sit down and watch TV, the amount of really shallow mean-spirited, just awful crap especially, when it comes to reality television, is alarming,” Levine says. “More than it makes me angry, it makes me sad that people are willing to put themselves out there in such a negative light while simultaneously feeling like they’re being super powerful. Which is not true. There’s a weird virus in the culture where people tend to think that being an a–hole is being strong.”
Levine says he keeps coming back to the show because of the family vibe.
“I joke and I say it’s about the money,” he says. “You can throw all the money in the world at somebody, but [why do it] if it’s making you miserable. It’s been just one of those things hat makes me really happy. That’s why I’ve been doing it for 13 seasons.”
As for who’s going to win, Cyrus naturally votes for herself — and Levine doesn’t disagree. “I have to tell you, if I’m being honest, it seems like one of the two girls is going to win again this year,” he says. “But you can never count me out. You can count Blake out, though.”
You can listen to this week’s episode below:
New episodes of “Remote Controlled” are available every Friday, and you can find past episodes here.