How ABC's new singing competition is like gladiator combat

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ABC gave critics a first look at its new singing competition show that takes viewer interaction to a new level.

Titled Rising Star, the live show is based on anĀ Israeli format that has a Voice-like audition twist. Here’s how it works: The singer takes the stage with a big video wall separating her from the audience. She starts to sing and viewers vote on whether she’s good or bad using a smartphone app in real time. There’s a meter on the screen as the votes are tallied as she sings. As the song progresses, photos of the fans voting for her are shown on the giant video screen. If she reaches a certain level of votes, the screen goes up and reveals her to the audience — thus, “rising” star.

ABC entertainment president Paul Lee described the real-time thumbs up/down voting process as “almost like a modern-day coliseum” and calls the format a “game changer.” Making things weird: Lee noted the voting app is designed by people from Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, adding that he perhaps shouldn’t actually be telling us this. He also compared it to The Gong Show (which he definitely shouldn’t be telling us).

ABC has been trying to break into the singing competition game for the last few years (Duets, Sing Your Face Off). Rising Star is coming in June. Could there actually be room for yet another singing competition show? Here’s a clip of the Israeli version to give you a sense, visually, of the format (there’s no ABC trailer yet). Are you not entertained?

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