[WATCH] ‘The Voice’ production designer James Pearse Connelly on ‘connecting to the soul of the audience’

During our recent webcam chat (watch above), “The Voice” production designer James Pearse Connelly reflected on his fifth consecutive Emmy nomination for the singing competition program. “It makes me look back on the years that we’ve had developing the show, but also developing kind of the genre of television.” As he explains, “Back in 2012, we were nominated, but it was for a tremendous amount of work, and now I feel like I’m being nominated for an incredible team, and for the history we’ve given the show, and the development we’ve given to the overall genre of variety series and reality unscripted storytelling.”

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Connelly, who won an Emmy for his art direction of the 2008 MTV Music Awards, was hired onto the series in its second season. He recalls the producers, “were really struggling with the creative direction of the ‘reality.’” For him, “reality is such a general term for what I think is unscripted storytelling. To me, behavior is the result of environment plus personality, and so you’ve got these personalities of the artists journeying through hallways and what is ‘The Voice’-branded environment to the biggest audition of their lives.”

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Competition from shows such as “American Idol” meant that “The Voice” needed to stand out. “I thought, the other shows are taking the capture of backstage, and that’s kind of it. When I watch the show, I want it to be bigger and better than that, and I want it to be bolder, and more exciting, and sort of a wonderland or a high-end place that is unattainable.”

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“For the first few seasons,” he reveals, “I put ‘The Voice’ logo on everything. Now, people know the show they’re watching. They know the taste level, and they know my color pallet. So now it’s about connecting to the soul of the audience, having them watch it and take them into the show, as opposed to telling them what this is.”

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