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The Voice Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is an interview with V Correspondent Alison Haislip on April 26, 2011 about the show The Voice.

Alison Haislip

Question:
What was it about The Voice that made you want to be a part of the show?

Alison Haislip:
When I sat down with the producers and found out exactly what the show was about because all I knew is that it was a singing competition that was created in Holland. And I had gone to the Holland website and tried to figure out what on earth was happening. But all they speak is Dutch. So when they sat me down and explained what the show was about I was just thrilled. Because I actually come from really strong music background, my whole family is musicians. Like when we get together for Christmas, we're like the Partridge Family. So this was something that personally I was very passionate about. And then when they explained what my role would be with the whole social media aspect with Facebook and Twitter and all that I was like so really what you want me to do is what I do in my free time anyway? And they were like yes, pretty much. And I was like I'm sold, I'm in. That sounds great.

Question:
It sounds like a perfect fit actually.

Alison Haislip:
It really is. It's kind of scary.

Question:
Using all the different social media that you're going to be using, this is the first time it's really been such an active part of a show. What you are most looking forward to in the sense of communicating with the world at large while the show is actually happening?

Alison Haislip:
What I'm most excited about is letting the people know that what they're seeing is actually reality. That this is isn't one of those reality shows where it's being overly produced or edited in a way to make a story line better or anything like that. I have been told specifically that I am allowed to talk about anything that happens backstage, that happens in interviews. Because mostly Mark wants people to realize that they're getting the legit stories here. And I think that's pretty incredible because I was entirely expecting to show up to set and having people be like, okay so this is how it really works. But we're not going to let that out in public. We don't want them to know that. And it's not like that at all. Like especially with the blind auditions, like those coaches have never seen or heard those people before in their lives. And that's why the show works so well. You as the audience member has more information than the superstar coaches do and that's what makes it more exciting to watch.

Question:
Can explain what all exactly your role does entail?

Alison Haislip:
In general what I am trying to do is be the bridge between the audience and the show, to make the show more accessible than simply just sitting down and watching it in front of your TV. I hope we're allowing people to see behind the scenes to really get to know what's going on with these artists, with the coaches, with the people who work on the show, like the band and the wardrobe stylists, and people like that. So people will get a really full picture of what this show is about. And hopefully, I'll be getting that out there through Twitter, through my blogs and specifically the fact that I am using my own Twitter account. I hope that means people realize they are legitimately getting my point of view. They're not getting something that like NBC told me to put out there.

Question:
Are you going to get to watch the show live there?

Alison Haislip:
I will be watching the show live and live tweeting during the show. We've already taped a few episodes so I obviously already know what happens. But I will be watching the show and expressing it live out there. But when we go live in June, I will actually be apart of the live show as well, giving all the behind-the-scenes. Once the artist sings, they will instantly be coming off stage and coming to talk to me. And giving people more well rounded view of these artists so they can really get to know who these people are. They're not just these people who sing on their screen for 90 seconds and then we get a 30 second back story about them. Like we're going to figure out who these people are and get that out there to America.

Question:
What do you think will be one of your biggest challenges working on the show?

Alison Haislip:
This is the first time that any show has really incorporated social media the way that The Voice is doing it trying to make it very interactive and very open to our audience. So it really is kind of going to be, we're going to be figuring it out as we go along. We already have been. This has been a really interesting experiment at least. So for example tonight, when the show premiers, I'm going to be live tweeting during the show. And we're just going to see how the audience reacts to that. Hopefully people will enjoy getting so much inside information. There's always the chance that we're putting out to much information and people feel overwhelmed by it.

But this is all just it's just a really cool experiment to see how we can incorporate social media into television. Because social media's become such a huge part of our lives these days that it seems, it seems silly to not sort of incorporate it into our other media outlets. Obviously I've already been kind of trial and errorring, if that's a word, with my current Twitter following. Because I got put on The Voice but my Twitter followers all know me from G4. So it's been an interesting balance trying to incorporate The Voice into my tweets and my daily life without alienating my G4 audience. So that's been an interesting challenge for me already and the show hasn't even started yet.

Question:
Speaking of the work with G4, how difficult is it for you to switch off between The Voice and your work with G4?

Alison Haislip:
Thankfully G4 is a Comcast owned company and so NBC and G4 are now sister networks. They were able to arrange their own scheduling with me. I believe when my press release went out I was considered the first piece of synergy between Comcast and NBC. I never knew I was going to grow up to be a buzz word but that was pretty cool. So the networks have really been working it out together. And for me, personally, I am like a huge gamer geek and nerd and all that but I also had a really strong passion for music my whole life. I've grown up in music. So for me personally, the switch wasn't that difficult because I was going from one subject matter that I cared about to another subject matter that I cared about. And was able to take all of my knowledge from G4 with me to The Voice and the whole social media aspect of it.

Question:
How much of the Twitter stuff that we see on screen during the show will you be playing a role in?

Alison Haislip:
I will actually be live tweeting throughout the show. So people who are watching the show in real time will be able to check in with my Twitter feed and see my reactions about what actually happened backstage or what people thought when the cameras were turned off and things like that. As the show goes on, my tweets will then be incorporated into the show the same way. Because my aspect of the show is live; we start that tonight.

Question:
How many of the people involved in front of the camera were not on Twitter when you came in and you had to show them the ropes?

Alison Haislip:
I believe the only person on camera who was not involved with Twitter when we started taping the show was Christina. And she quickly got a Twitter account once we started taping the show. I just remember that one of her first tweets that she sent out was that she never thought she would use the word hash tag in her life. And that was really the moment she went, okay, I'm on Twitter. And let me tell you, her fans are Twitter hungry. Like once she signed on she had one of the fastest growing Twitter accounts out there. And once I was announced on the show, it was her fans that came to me first. And they were just so excited to have other outlets to Christina. And they're the ones who have been so fantastically supportive of the show and it hasn't even aired yet. So I think Christina is ready to change Twitter.

Question:
There are just a couple weeks of the blind auditions. Once that's done, how does this show differ from all the other musical competition shows?

Alison Haislip:
One of the things that I find really exciting about this show is that the format changes from week-to-week. It's not like other competition shows where you basically just see the people perform in generally the same way every week. So once these blind auditions are done, the show goes into what they're calling battle rounds. And first off that sounds terribly exciting. What happens there is in the blind auditions, the coaches have selected teams of eight. In the battle round, each coach pairs up their team into four duets. And then those duets have to sing, they perform. And after they do their performance, the coach then immediately has to decide which one of those two people get kicked off their team.

So the coaches go from creating these teams of eight to instantly having to eliminate four of their own teammates. And because the coaches have a goal in this competition, because what they're trying to do is select the person who becomes the next Voice, they're invested in these people and they care about these people. And you get to see them make some really incredibly tough decisions. It's not like other shows where it's just like, oh, well America voted and they didn't like you. They can put the blame on someone else. No these coaches have to make these decisions for themselves and be the bad guy. And it's really interesting like what comes out of that.

Question:
Were there any hijinx during those blind auditions rounds, such as bringing out real singers and seeing how people reacted if they trashed some real singer's performance?

Alison Haislip:
No, there were no hijinx involving the actual artists. Because Mark Burnett wanted to make sure that people knew that this show was legitimately for singers. That we weren't bringing on people to just make good TV or like to make fun of them or anything like that. I will say that the coaches themselves definitely have their own hijinx with each other. Like Blake and Adam have got this ridiculous bromance going on between each other that I've never seen, and I think they only met like a couple of weeks before the show started filming.

So it's kind of incredible how these two have become brothers basically. And there's plenty of pranks going on backstage which is actually my job to report on. And if you go to the blogs that I've written, you can see some of them. I mean they like vandalize each other's dressing rooms and things like that. And then Adam and Christina definitely have this - They love competing with each other. And you'll see that come out during the blind auditions. Cee Lo, he's just cool. He just sits back and lets it all happen around him.

Question:
Will be at San Diego Comic Com again, perhaps with the panel for The Voice?

Alison Haislip:
I don't know if The Voice is going to Comic Com, sure I'd love to do a panel on that. But I mean I'll definitely be at Comic-Com with G4. And I would assume I'd be on the panel for them as well. That's all scheduling. That's all due to scheduling. But I'll definitely 100% be at Comic-Con in some way, shape or form.

Question:
Will you be doing another round of Ninja Warrior?

Alison Haislip:
That is actually in discussions right now. Because of because of everything that's happened in Japan recently, the Japanese side of Ninja Warrior, the Sasuke side, decided to push up production to get the season out sooner to let people know that it's okay to go to Japan which I think is brilliant on their own end. But because of that scheduling like I said, it's all up in the air. I am definitely hoping to be a part of it to be quite honest. It might conflict with The Voice, I'm not sure yet. But I actually just heard some relatively good news this past week that it may not. So we are still working on that and I'm really keeping my fingers crossed that I will be part of that. Because that show has really become a part of my heart and I love those guys that we bring on, our ninjas. I feel like they're my family now so. I really hope to be a part of it again.

Question:
The other network are ganging up on you tonight against your premiere. Glee is going 90 minutes and Pia from American Idol is guesting on Dancing with the Stars. They've never done that before. Even Simon Cowell announced Paula might be a judge on X Factor. How are you feeling about the reaction from other networks on your show?

Alison Haislip:
Well I think it's awesome because if they're reacting this strongly to our premiere it means they're scared of us. It means that they see value in this show which is a fantastic compliment although I definitely had to tell my parents that they are required to TiVo Glee and watch my show live. They're not authorized to watch Glee in real time.

Question:
Speaking of real time, Geoff Thorpe also live tweets his show Survivor. But he has an issue with the East Coast and West Coast. How do you try to solve that dilemma when you're live tweeting during the show?

Alison Haislip:
That has been the question that has been on my mind since I started this show. And we're going to figure out how we're going to do it tonight. What I know is that I will be live tweeting the East Coast feed. I don't believe I'll be doing West Coast feeds because I didn't think they realize that that's basically five hours of live tweeting and no one wants to follow a Twitter account that's truly for five hours. So we're going to see how it goes tonight. And you know it might change next week or it might work out perfectly.

Question:
Will we see Justin Bieber on the show on the link?

Alison Haislip:
I hope so but I haven't heard so yet.

Question:
What have you noticed about how you need to approach the social aspect of The Voice as compared to other talent competitions?

Alison Haislip:
I think what I find very interesting is that people are hungry for information. People want to know everything they possible can about whatever show it is that they're a fan of. So what I've been trying to do is get out as much information as possible about the show but in moderated doses. Because as someone who has been on a I've been a part of social media since basically social media began. I understand that people who are on these sites don't like any spam. And I don't want to do that to people. I want to make sure that people are getting the information that they want but in the time that they want. So and actually that right there is one of the reasons that NBC hired me is because I understand that end. And so it's been a pretty fantastic couple of weeks knowing that NBC trusts me to do this job that they hired me for.

Question:
Can you talk a little of what you've seen from Christina, Adam, and the other coaches that allow the talent to shine?

Alison Haislip:
What I think is pretty incredible is that these coaches get invested in their artists and they really care about them. And they truly coach and mentor them. I mean I've sat in on a couple of their rehearsals and they get up there with their artist and they go that was awesome. But what if you tried it this way and then they'll sing a couple of lines for them. And let me tell me, when you hear Christina just bust out in like two lines of a song with no band, no anything, it's unbelievable. Like you realize why she is the talent that she is. And they're not just sitting back and letting these people go and kind of giving them a few notes. They are invested. They're in there, they're working with them. I mean Christina at one point basically became a couple's therapist which was a moment when I was because we were all expecting her to be like, producers, this is not my job; you need to step in here. But she didn't. She took over the stage. You know, she owned it and she talked these two people through their issues which I was like wow that is not in her job description. But she cares so much that she got into it.

Question:
What's been like your favorite moment working on the show?

Alison Haislip:
There is a moment in the battle rounds where Cee Lo has to make one of the toughest decisions we've seen on this show. And it's at that moment when you realize how invested these coaches are in these artists. And while I can't say anything more than that, it's really a very beautiful moment to witness on TV. And that's one of the moments that I'm really excited for America to see.

Question:
Do you think that this is going to kind of open the door and start all these other reality shows doing this?

Alison Haislip:
I really hope so. You know, I think we forget that like when reality TV started like, I don't know what 10-15 years ago at this point maybe not even that long ago. But it was kind of true reality. And then I feel like the industry got its hands on it and turned it into fake reality. And so all of the sudden the reality shows are almost just as scripted as our non-reality shows. So this show I'm hoping is going to hearken back to true reality. I mean it is a legitimate competition. And I think that is specifically what my role is on this show is to let people know that. That's why we are giving you so much access behind the scenes, and backstage stuff, and me blogging and tweeting about the show. Like everything is absolutely legit and I think Mark Burnett really wants to put that out there that this is reality.

I was really excited when I showed up on set and saw that. I was expecting to show up and have the producers tell me, this is how it actually works. But we're not putting that out there in the public. So this is what you're allowed to talk about. And it wasn't like that all. They were like, you have free reign. I mean I was allowed to take pictures of Christiana Aguilera's dressing room. I mean come on! They gave me access to everything.

Question:
It sounds like the entire selection process is going to be left up to the judges. But what are you going to be doing from the social commentary aspect to include tweets from viewers and Facebook comments from viewers? Are you going to be actually including any of that in the live broadcast when it starts like flashing viewer's tweets on the screen or incorporating them in the show in any kind of way?

Alison Haislip:
That is what we are hoping to do when the shows go live in June. I will be setup in what they're calling the Z room. You know, it's the Z room, I feel about the name but we'll go with it. And the idea of the Z room is that the artists will perform live and then walk off stage and sit down with me. And I can give them the real-time updates of what people thought about their performance via Twitter or Facebook or whatever outlet they want to use. And let's say like, people really loved your song choice but they don't know why you were wearing this. Or like people wish you had picked a country song instead of a rock song or something along those lines. So the artists are getting real-time updates. And I think what we are hoping to do and like I said before this is all like a work in progress and experiment so we're not quite sure how this is all really going to tie together yet. But what America thinks and tweets into us is something that could actually influence the coaches choices during the live show. So it could truly be an interactive show.

Question:
We've seen a performance from the judges of Cee Lo's "Crazy". Are you guys anticipating any guest performers this season? Or are there more surprises like that to come?

Alison Haislip:
I can definitely confirm that there is at least one guest performance. And I think we're all hoping for more when the live shows start up.

Question:
Do you know how they came up with the idea of like having their backs to the performers so it's like they can only hear them sing?

Alison Haislip:
The Voice was originally a show from Holland called The Voice of Holland. And we can credit Holland for coming up with that idea. I don't know exactly who was the genius behind that. But The Voice of Holland was such a successful show out there that that's why Mark Burnett and NBC wanted to bring it out here. You know, because they saw something incredibly legit and something that was thankfully fresh in the world of reality competition shows. So really you can thank the Dutch for that idea.

Question:
Will we be seeing any surprise coaches at all to help out like Blake Shelton or Cee Lo?

Alison Haislip:
There are definitely going to be plenty of surprise appearances during the show. Probably not in the very beginning but once you get into the show, you're going to be seeing a lot of familiar faces show up. And I think the audience is going to be very excited about that.

Question:
Can you talk a little bit about how the live competition part is going to go when i t happens?

Alison Haislip:
When we go to the live shows each coach is left with four artists on their team, four artists each on their team. And at that point the artists are all going to be singing individually no longer as partners or anything like that. And I believe what happens then is that America votes to save one person on each coach's team. And after that person is saved it is then the coach's decision to pick off whoever's remaining, pick off one person who's remaining from their team. So for the first week when we have four people, one person gets saved, they have a choice of three to kickoff their team. And that continues every week until each coach is left with one artist. And then those four artists compete against each other and America votes for the winner. And then the coach takes bragging rights.

Question:
What's something that your fans would be surprised to know about you?

Alison Haislip:
I have a gorgeous red piano in my apartment that I play a lot. And I don't think my G4 fans realize how much music is a part of my life because it's never been something that's been brought up on G4. So I think it's important for people to realize that like I am on The Voice because I care about the subject matter and I love my little red piano.

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