NBC, de Mol and Burnett to raise Voice in U.S.

NBC, fresh from a strong performance by its a capella singing competition The Sing Off, has announced plans for a new talent contest, and this time it has brought in two big guns from the unscripted world to hit the high notes.
January 1, 2011

NBC, fresh from a strong performance by its a capella singing competition The Sing Off, has announced plans for a new talent contest, and this time it’s brought in two big guns from the unscripted world to hit the high notes.

The Voice will bring together format creator John de Mol (Big Brother, Fear Factor) and exec producer Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Apprentice) for a series that will, according to Paul Telegdy, executive vice president, alternative programming, NBC and Universal Media Studios, “focus on amazing voices.”

The series, set to launch in spring of this year, is based on the Dutch hit The Voice of Holland, which is currently the top singing competition in that country, knocking out the local versions of X Factor and Idol. As part of its framework, four celebrity artists head up four teams of singers that they will coach throughout the competition. Singers will be eliminated until each team has one remaining, who will then square off in the finals, with the TV audience also able to weigh in on the ultimate winner. The grand prize, as with Idol, is a recording contract.

Unlike the other singing competition series, the initial audition round will be a “blind audition,” meaning the judges will only be able to hear the singers and not see them. If the coaches are impressed by the talent during this first audition, they can then select the singer for his or her individual team.

Burnett told realscreen that he’d been working on another talent project with NBC. “Then I saw [The Voice of Holland], as did NBC, and Paul Telegdy and I both said the same thing – ‘Wow, I wish we’d thought of that.’”

“As soon as we saw the Dutch format, we knew this was completely different and really exciting,” said Telegdy in a statement. “The pickup by NBC is a huge reward for all the hard work me and my company have put in this show,” added de Mol. “It would be fantastic to see The Voice as successful in the U.S. as it is in Holland, because that would mean we trace solid new American singing talent.”

The series is the first fruit of the newly-established relationship between de Mol’s Talpa Media and Warner Horizon Television, through which Warner Horizon will develop for the U.S. market programs based on Talpa formats.

Format Focus Briefs

Celebrities announced for the second season of the U.S. version of Who do You Think You Are? include Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Rosie O’Donnell, Steve Buscemi, Kim Cattrall, Lionel Richie, Vanessa Williams and Ashley Judd. The series, produced by Shed Media U.S. with Lisa Kudrow’s shingle Is or Isn’t Entertainment, returns to NBC on February 4… Banijay International has entered into an exclusive output deal with Egyptian prodco Medialife. Under the pact, Medialife will represent all of Banijay International’s formats in Egypt, with the exception of three formats already licensed for the Middle East, for two years. Beyond distributing Banijay International’s catalog, Medialife also intends to produce or coproduce format adaptations in the region. “In partnering with a reputable and established company like Medialife, we are confident we can further integrate ourselves into Egypt as one of the most important markets in the Middle East, a priority region for us going forward,” said Banijay International head Karoline Spodsberg… Newly formed U.S. prodco Genetic Entertainment has offered Red Arrow Entertainment Group first look rights and worldwide distribution, excluding the U.S., in a new deal. Red Arrow will have first look at Genetic’s development and distribute the L.A.-based company’s output through sales division SevenOne International. Genetic, formed by exec producers David Wyler, Lincoln Hiatt and Curt Northrup, will retain the rights to its shows in the U.S.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.