Voice Correspondent Alison Haislip Dishes on The Voice

By Jamie Ruby

Alison HaislipAlison Haislip is probably best known for her work on G4, where as a correspondent she has covered everything from E3 to Comic-Con, and where she also is also a cohost of Attack of the Show! Haislip's newest endeavor is as the Social Media Online Correspondent, also known as the V Correspondent, for NBC's new reality competition, The Voice.

Haislip recently talked to the digital press about her work on the series.

The Voice
Alison Haislip

April 26, 2011
12:00 pm CT

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

ALISON HAISLIP: Well let me tell you 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.

And 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: 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 [executive producer] Mark [Burnett] 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 have 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, you know. 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.

Is that this is legit. You as the audience member have more information than the superstar coaches do and that's what makes it more exciting to watch.

QUESTION: Can explain what exactly your role does entail? You're going to be posting on social media. But obviously you're doing stuff with the show, too.

ALISON HAISLIP: Right. Well what, 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 So are you going to get to watch the show live? Or are you going to interview the contestants, too?

ALISON HAISLIP: Yes, well, I will be watching the show live and live tweeting during the show. Now 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 a part 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 a 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 the 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: Well, 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.

I mean 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.

QUESTION: I could see the need for the trial and error whatever you say.

ALISON HAISLIP: Right. Yes, I mean obviously I've already been kind of trial-and-errorring – if that's a word – with my current Twitter following. Because, you know, 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: How difficult is it for you to switch off between The Voice and your work with G4?

ALISON HAISLIP: Well, you know, thankfully G4 is a Comcast-owned company and so NBC and G4 are now sister networks. So 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, which I never knew I was going to grow up to be a buzzword 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're seeing on screen during the premier will you be playing a role in? And during the premiere there [are] these nice [scrolls] across the screen that show tweets from Carson and some of the fellow coaches... and then some to the contestants and some to people who fail to even make the grade. How much of a role you will be playing in that?

ALISON HAISLIP: Well 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 kind of 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 [Aguilera]. And she quickly got a Twitter account once we started taping the show.

And 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, you know, 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. And once that's done, how does this show differ from all the other musical competition shows? So for someone [who] doesn't usually watch these, how would this be interesting once you're done with all that blind portion of it?

ALISON HAISLIP: Well 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.

But anyway 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 audition rounds such as bringing out real singers and seeing how people reacted if they trashed some real singer's performance?

ALISON HAISLIP: Well no. I mean there was 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, you know, 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 [Shelton] and Adam [Levine] 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: Congrats on having your dressing room right across from Christina's.

ALISON HAISLIP: Oh yes. Yes that was pretty cool, I've got to be honest. When I walked in and saw that, I was like oh yes, it just got real.

QUESTION: [Will you] be at San Diego Comic-Con again, perhaps with the panel for The Voice?

ALISON HAISLIP: Oh a panel with The Voice? I don't know if The Voice is going to Comic-Con, 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, you know, scheduling.

That's all due to scheduling. But I'll definitely 100% be at Comic-Con in some way, shape or form.

Alison HaislipQUESTION: Will you also be doing another round of Ninja Warrior?

ALISON HAISLIP: That is actually in discussions right now. Because of, you know, 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: Hey, as part of that scare of the other network ganging up on you tonight – specifically, Glee is going 90 minutes, Apia from American Idol is guesting on Dancing with the Stars – I feel it's all a response to your premiere and even Simon Cowell announcing Paula might be a judge on X Factor. How are you feeling about that, the reaction from other networks [to] 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, you know, 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: And 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: You know what? 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, you know, 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: Well, I think what I find very interesting is that people are hungry for information. People want to know everything they possibly 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 ... 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 about what you've seen from Christina, and Adam, and the other coaches that allows the talent to shine?

ALISON HAISLIP: Oh okay. Well 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 you, when you hear Christina just bust out in like two lines of a song with no band, no anything, it's unbelievable.

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 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 your favorite moment working on the show?

ALISON HAISLIP: That's a good question. Okay I will say that 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: Now that they're doing this and kind of involving people in the show, in the production, do you think that this is going to 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 when reality TV started, 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 that is specifically what my role is on this show is to let people know that.

That that's why we're 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 think -- I don't remember if I said this to you -- but I answered this to one person's question 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: You've gone to Comic-Con [many] times. Is there someone that you still would really like to meet that you haven't gotten to see at Comic-Con yet?

ALISON HAISLIP: At Comic-Con, who haven't I met? You know who I haven't met yet is Stan Lee. And he's done tons of stuff for the types of show on G4. He's been a part of so much of G4 programming.

And he's always showed up on days when I'm not at work. And I think he's one of those just nerd icons that I would love to actually shake hands with and be like, yes, I got to meet Stan Lee.

QUESTION: What's your favorite videogame to play?

ALISON HAISLIP: Oh my gosh, I'm playing Portal 2 right now and it is mind-blowingly awesome. Oh, I'm obsessed.

My son had a going away party on Saturday and I almost did not go so I had to stay in Saturday night to play Portal 2. It's so fantastic. And I love, I don't know how far in you are but like you play the game and then all the sudden it becomes a completely new game like halfway through it.

It's like, I am addicted to it.

And I love puzzle games so like this one is just it's perfection for me really.

QUESTION: It sounds like the entire selection process is going to be left up to the judges. But what are you guys 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 ... 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, you know, let's say people really loved your song choice but they don't know why you were wearing this. Or 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, you know, tweets into us is something that could actually influence the coaches choices during the live 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 having their backs to the performers so they can only hear them sing?

ALISON HAISLIP: Well, 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'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?

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: You mentioned live interaction between the audience and the live performances going on. But how would that work when you have two different coasts? It seems like the East Coast would get all of the interaction and the West Coast wouldn't have any way to interact.

ALISON HAISLIP: Yes. I mean that is obviously the issue at hand. And like I said this is why this is all a work in progress. This is the first time a show is attempting something like that. But, you know, I come from a live show that does something similar with the tack of the show.

We have a Twitter wall on our set so while people are watching the show, they can tweet into us and we react to them instantly. And, you know, it is something where the East Coast gets the upper hand. But plenty of people out West have access to the East Coast feeds so hopefully that will help out that issue.

But it's important to say if true fans want to interact with the show they better move to New Jersey!

Alison HaislipQUESTION: When I sent out the tweet asking for any questions, I got a few responses from some people that already follow you for your G4 account. And they were concerned about getting lots of spam commercial tweets. How do you balance that? Are you touching this a little bit for where you're going to have fans for The Voice and you're going to have fans for G4 and they don't necessarily want to see all the coverage of the other side.

ALISON HAISLIP: Right. Well I mean all I can say is that I hope my G4 fans understand that number one, I'm not spamming them. And number two, I'm not just sending out commercials.

Anything that I send out on my personal Twitter feed is either (A) something I'm interested in or (B) something I'm involved in. So just because it's not G4-related doesn't mean that it's not me-related. Because I'm incredibly narcissistic, you know what I mean?

So while I' have been tweeting a lot about The Voice, it's all been about the blogs I've written, or the videos I've been in, or the interactions I've had with the coaches.

And on top of that I'm still tweeting about my everyday random thoughts that pop into my head which is why people like my Twitter account to begin with. So really the only thing that's different is that I'm not changing my tweets I'm just tweeting more about something else.

And so I'm hoping that once the show starts and people realize how cool the show is that they'll be more accepting of the fact that I'm talking about it more.

QUESTION: Yes, your G4 fans will want to go see what you're talking about and go watch The Voice.

ALISON HAISLIP: Right. I want to make sure because I definitely [think] people are very vocal on Twitter and I've definitely heard some of my Twitter followers who were like "why is The Voice the only thing you're talking about?"

And I'm like, it's really not. I'm still talking about everything else I talk about. I'm just tweeting more and some of it has to do with The Voice. And, you know, fanboys are the most loyal fans out there and that's why I love them.

But we're also very scared of change. And I think that, you know, this is kind of like a growing pain we're going through. So I'm really hoping that once people realize that the show is awesome and that I care about it and I'm not doing this because I'm getting a paycheck for it that people will be more open to it.

QUESTION: Hey, what are your hash tags for tonight? And do the different coaches have hash tags too? Do you have any conventions that you guys are using?

ALISON HAISLIP: I always hash tag The Voice but that's also because that's what helps my Voice-related tweets go on the homepage of NBC.com/The Voice.

That one seems the most obvious to me. But I'm sure once we start tonight we'll figure out if it is going to be that or if it's going to be something else. I already know that Christina, The Voice is a trending topic on Twitter.

I mean at least it was an hour again when I last checked Twitter. So and that was fully started by her fans. That had nothing to do with the show, which is kind of awesome.

I would go with hash tag The Voice to play it safe.

QUESTION: The beginning of the show [has] already been filmed. Can you talk a little bit about how the live competition part is going to go? How we're going to be involved in voting and all that?

ALISON HAISLIP: Sure. So 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: Oh I get asked that question a lot and now I feel like I'm out of answers. That they would be surprised to know about me, well, you know, to kind of relate it back to The Voice, 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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