*People are already calling Ludacris the “Simon Cowell” of ABC’s “Rising Star,” and he doesn’t give a you know what.
He was the first to vote thumbs down on a contestant, and voted “no” the most throughout Sunday’s season premiere, while fellow judges Kesha and Brad Paisley were less critical.
He also was quick to check some audience members who booed his harsh critiques. Turning around to face them, he said, “I ain’t afraid.”
Immediately after the live broadcast in Los Angeles, Ludacris told reporters, “I didn’t feel bad at all. Because at the end of the day, I have to be honest with myself, first and foremost. And I don’t expect everybody to agree with me. If you don’t agree with me, if somebody at home has an opinion, they’re not doing their job if they don’t have the application because they have a say. I only have seven percent of the vote.”
He explained to The Hollywood Reporter that he’s not concerned about turning himself into the singing show’s token mean judge. “I’m not worried about it at all. As long as I’m being honest, then it is what it is. I don’t expect everybody to agree with me. I don’t’ expect that any human being expects everybody to agree with them on anything! It’s a hard position, but people have their opinions about me, I can’t lose any sleep about it. It is what it is.”
In fact, he thinks his fellow judges could have more of a backbone with their votes. “I’m more mad at Kesha and Brad because I feel don’t like, deep down, a lot of the people they were voting ‘yes’ for, they really wanted to vote ‘yes.’ So that’s who you should be mad at—tell them I said it!”
“Rising Star,” airs Sundays on ABC. During the performances, viewers vote via an App in real time to determine if the singer will advance to the next round. Each judge represents only 7 percent of the vote. If the total voting reaches a certain threshold, the performer moves on, and the performer can see how the voting is going during the performance.
More than 5 million votes were cast in real-time during Sunday night’s two-hour premiere. The “Rising Star” app that enables a viewer to vote was downloaded 1 million times on iTunes.
The show, hosted by Josh Groban and featuring 10 contestants, drew a TV audience of 5.1 million, making it a solid No. 2 behind “America’s Got Talent” on NBC.
It was No. 1, however, in social media engagement. “Rising Star” was the most social broadcast series on Sunday with 129,071 tweets, topping “America’s Got Talent,” which received 33,106. “Star’s” tally was more than double “AGT”’s season premiere on May 27 and 30 percent higher than the May 28 season premiere of Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance.”
The second screen integration makes “Rising Star” the first show empowering viewers to decide who should stay and who should go in real-time. “Rising Star” reached a unique Twitter audience of 1.96 million with 9.55 million Twitter impressions.