Friday, April 22, 2011

Mark Burnett, Blake Shelton & Cee Lo Green from The Voice

Photo by Pop Culture Passionistas

Reality show genius Mark Burnett is at it again. To be honest we weren't all that excited about his upcoming show The Voice until we attended an NBC press event last week. As we watched the promo reel and listened to the producer talk about the series, alongside stars Cee Lo Green, Blake Shelton and Carson Daly, we were overcome by the Burnett magic.

The creator of Survivor and The Apprentice is pretty much responsible for the birth of the genre and most certainly for its mainstream success. And now in a time when most viewers thought American Idol and America's Got Talent were winding down, Burnett has reinvented the wheel. He has taken the tried and true music competition series and turned it on its heels.

The Voice pits singers against each other, but it also matches the celebrity panelists head-to-head as they compete to mentor the contestants. Cee Lo Green, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera don’t act as judges as much as they are coaches to the competitors. They split the 24 best contestants into four teams, one for each coach.

Blake commented, "Trying to convince somebody to be on your team is a delicate thing, because as an artist I don't want to do anything that might hold somebody back, and so I'm not going to beg for somebody or pick somebody that I don't know that I can do that much for them. I wouldn't want to hinder them at all. I want to see every one of these people go on and do something because I know what they are up against and what that's like. And so the only time that you would really go head to head is when there's somebody that you really, really, truly believe you can help. You don't want to take somebody from someone else's team just to do that."

Burnett said he put careful thought into choosing the four panelists. He noted that he wanted people that were hugely successful in the industry. He also said he wanted the coaches to be at ease with him and his concept for the show. "Fortunately I've had enough of a career to see that I'm not an idiot, and I can actually make good story telling, and they can have comfort in that, but really what was the hardest part was the scheduling."

He continued, "We have four super star music performers who are at the top of their game, and that was really, really important to me that we wanted people as you said who are at the top of their game currently, currently worldwide, and I think it makes a huge difference to an audience.

Cee Lo explained why, even though he has an insanely busy schedule, he decided to sign on to be on The Voice. "I was cordially invited by a good friend of mine. I was so flattered, and so just complimented by him asking me thinking that I could even give some kind of constructive criticism or some type of contribution to it. That really compelled me to want to be a part of it… And it's a great, fresh idea and concept. It's something very positive and productive and proactive, and that's something that I would like to consider myself and would love to be a part of and be a part of that positive energy, and it's very, very positive, and I just think it's a good space to be in creatively."

He also detailed why he said yes to Mark Burnett, but no to Simon Cowell's X Factor. "Quite honestly I was unfamiliar with the concept of X Factor. I knew the name. I know the parties involved, but as an enterpriser I didn't see where it was distinctive enough. And quite honestly I felt like prior to that American Idol and these other entities had run their course. And this was of course prior to the new casting with Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, and they actually have done a great job because I'm a fan of Steven as well, so they have actually turned that show around and done a great job which is great for us because not only do we have a competitive spirit amongst ourselves, we'll compete with these other shows as well, and I like this one better, and I like Mark."

Burnett also had something to say about the future of music shows like Idol and X Factor. He declared, "I do know that music shows work worldwide, and it's that simple thing that we like to play along. We have opinions whether we can sing or not of whether it sounds right or it doesn't sound right, and there's a play-along factor of these music shows, and I feel that music shows will be around for a long time."

The Voice premieres on April 26 at 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. Central on NBC.

See a slide show of The Voice panel at NBC Press Day at

For related stories check out:
Mark Burnett's CliffsNotes
Trump, Meat Loaf & NeNe Discuss The Celebrity Apprentice

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