After 12 successful years of showcasing Hawai’i’s top singers, the statewide talent competition ends its run. The final season’s premiere airs this Sunday on KHON2 at 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
“We feel it’s time,” said executive producer Carol Kai. “We want to go out rather than get kicked out. That way, we want people to remember that the show was on.” Kai and co-host Kimo Kahoano will return as hosts but will unveil the show’s changes.
“Hawaii Stars, The Final Edition” will now be held at the Outrigger Waikiki Main Showroom, instead of the center stage at the Ala Moana Shopping Center.
“With this new venue and format, we could do a lot more,” she said.
The Outrigger Waikiki Main Showroom is also home to the popular local band Society of Seven, that will take a big role in this year’s competition. Members of the band will select songs for the contestants and judge them, alongside two weekly guest judges. The winner of the competition will receive a three-month singing contract with the Society of Seven, as opposed to the recording contract with Mountain Apple Records that past winners received.
“This season will be very exciting,” Kai said. “We’re trying to go to the next step and look at it as a show now looking to develop (contestants) as performers (as opposed to recording artists).” With the popularity of “American Idol,” Kai said, “Hawaii Stars” adopted a call-in voting format. However, it will not be back this season. Because the winners are competing to perform with the Society of Seven, they will be the judges. Viewers can participate in online polls.
“People can go to the show’s Web site and can log on to vote in polls,” Kai said. “Then they can win prizes for voting, anything from dinners to trips. You name it.” Also, unlike past seasons, this year’s competition is open to everyone, including past winners and contestants and professional singers.
Kaua‘i’s most recent representative was Waimea’s Christie Parongao, who made it all the way to round six, one round away from the finals.
A couple seasons back, Kaua‘i’s Troy Lazaro won the competition. Phone calls to the two were not immediately returned.
The show will also be extended from its regular 34-week run, to a 45-week run, divided into six, seven-week blocks and additional recaps and a finale.
Kai is pleased with the direction the show has taken and is excited to start the final season.
“It’s okay because I love it,” she said. “I’ve learned that you never look back, you always look forward.”
Lanaly Cabalo, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or email@example.com.