Star, interrupted: Joe Lambert’s talent shows reconfigure name, dates

Joe Lambert, promoter of Rising Star, is preparing for a renamed adult singing competition.DWIGHT MCCANN/CHUMASH CASINO RESORT
Joe Lambert, promoter of Rising Star, is preparing for a renamed adult singing competition.


What’s in a name? Well, for Joe Lambert of Teen Star and Rising Star fame, he’s finding out yet again.

Last August, Mr. Lambert capitalized on the success of his Teen Star talent show by creating a similar show for adults, called “Rising Star.”

Where Teen Star was a nonprofit and culminated in a show at the Granada, the 18-and-over singing contest was a for-profit enterprise and debuted at the Chumash Casino. It was a success and brought in all styles of music, and all ages of competitors.

But when Mr. Lambert looked into starting the process again for 2014, he hit a roadblock. The Israeli media company Keshet Broadcasting contacted Mr. Lambert over the use of “Rising Star.”

It’s not that they had a show called that already in existence, but they just so happened to be launching a show on ABC called “Rising Star,” with country star Brad Paisley as a judge.

The show is already based on an Israeli show, and Keshet is known for having its programming turned into successful American television.

Its drama “Hatufim” was remade into Showtime’s award-winning “Homeland.” A comedy, “The Ex” was remade into the Zach Braff/Amanda Peet vehicle “The Ex List.” It also has its own versions of “Cash Cab,” “Big Brother” and other reality shows.

To Mr. Lambert, it wasn’t the end of the world but it was exasperating.

He had already gone through a similar mix-up with his teen singing contest. Originally called “Santa Barbara Teen Idol,” Mr. Lambert’s local show had to change its name when Freemantle Media (owners of “American Idol”) claimed they had the rights to use the word “Idol” and Mr. Lambert didn’t.

So Teen Idol was out. Teen Star was in.

“I learned in those 48 hours that anyone who is going to do business has to do it through proper business channels through trademarking and make sure you are not treading on anybody’s rights,” Mr. Lambert said.

The difference here was that “Rising Star” made it through the trademark process. It just doesn’t stand up to the money and influence of a larger corporate entity.

However, instead of a cease and desist letter, this time around it was a business negotiation. Keshet Broadcasting bought the name from Mr. Lambert for an undisclosed sum.

The deal put him back in terms of the calendar date for this year’s show, which is now looking like mid-October, with auditions coming around Sept. 5.

“We’re going to be doing similar things,” said Mr. Lambert. “But I have a feeling the audition process will be more difficult because there’ll be a lot more people trying it. The interest last year was huge, but short of the promotional time. This time we have more time to promote.”

The Chumash Casino has agreed to host the show again.

But what about the new name?

“It’s unbelievable how difficult it is to get names,” Mr. Lambert said.

However, he said, there is a possible new name and in a few days, if his lawyer Angie Booth gets it locked down, he will announce.

“We’re hot on the trail” of the new name, he said.

“I went from just trying to do something good for the community,” said Mr. Lambert, “to it getting successful, and now I’m in the entertainment industry.”

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