THE VOICE Boss on Trying to Find Normalcy in the COVID-Impacted Season 19 - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

THE VOICE Boss on Trying to Find Normalcy in the COVID-Impacted Season 19

October 19, 2020 by  

The Voice season 19

THE VOICE — “Blind Auditions” — Pictured: (l-r) Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, John Legend, Kelly Clarkson — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

After the THE VOICE producers found themselves navigating uncharted waters last season (as COVID-19 shut down production and forced the final weeks of the show to be filmed remotely), showrunner Audrey Morrissey had a big goal for the new year: “We’re just trying to keep the show the [same] show everybody loves. That’s our main focus.”

The task was more difficult than expected. Over the show’s nine years on the air, there have been coaching changes, format tweaks, and other natural shifts that occur in 18-plus seasons of television. But for season 19, THE VOICE has had to contend with a global pandemic that has led to a virtual audience, smaller teams (10 contestants per coach), families supporting contestants via video conference, and mandated distance between the performers and the coaches who are often desperately trying to woo them.

“When we thought about this season, and we’re thinking like, wow, how do we make it comfortable for [the contestants]?” Morrissey told reporters. “We did the best we could; we were dealt [these] cards, and we couldn’t have audience in there, so that was it. We actually fought really hard to ensure that the band was physically there, because that was even a question at some point: would we be able to have them? And we felt we must have them; we have to do whatever we can to ensure they at least had their group behind them.”

But rather than hinder the performers, Morrissey found the opposite may have been true. “What was absolutely shocking in some ways was the music was incredible,” she said. “The singing was incredible; it’s definitely one of our better singing vocal seasons. And a lot of us are wondering if that has something to do because there was no audience—maybe the singers could actually hear themselves better without the crowd. I’ll tell you that the coaches commented that they felt they could hear the singing better, which makes sense because they didn’t have the audience. But as something that we were hyper concerned about the whole way, ended up not being a problem.”

With COVID-19 still an active problem, the long-running reality series had to plan for everything as they filmed the current season. (The NBC show has wrapped all of its rounds, excluding the season-concluding live shows.)

“We got through it by just being absolutely vigilant about the safety protocol, and testing the coaches religiously,” Morrissey said. “So much of it is about just preparing…for instance, when we did the Blind [Audition] episodes, we had to really think through, ‘Wow, we only have four days to shoot this, there’s so much money being spent on this. Who are the key people that if they got sick, we’d have to replace them immediately?’ And anybody that enters our bubble would already have to be tested and be negative. So we had to really identify key people and essentially have understudies for them out there ready, already tested and cleared to step in.”

If the show has to move remote again, “a lot of the big things that we’ve learned are just a lot of little techniques and new workflows that we’ve been able to perfect and refine,” she continues. “We definitely learned a lot about the…kind of equipment [needed] and we would revise our package of how we dealt that remotely.”

THE VOICE, Season Premiere, Monday, October 19, 8/7c, NBC


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