To plug “America's Got Talent,” NBC presented a clip reel of upcoming footage from the new season (debuting May 27) for journalists to view during the network's summer press day. While there were plenty of acts that hit familiar marks — acrobats, a cute kid, a talentless crooner — one that stood out was a guy who chews up an actual license plate. Still, returning host Howie Mandel (who will be joined again by Howard Stern, Mel B and Heidi Klum) assured the audience that an act that does something shocking doesn't necessarily have a guaranteed trip to the finish.
“You only see tidbits of what we see, but if you can capture our attention… there's nothing specific that gets you to the end. The guy who got kicked in the genitals [by a horse last season], he got a show on another network. The most successful talent show on right now is 'The Voice.' They have the voice. We have everything else.”
“It was amazing,” Klum admitted.
After the judges (all were in attendance except Stern, who was in New York) talked about the license plate chomper, the issue of how the show is revamping for its ninth season on the air was addressed. Mandel talked about the “gold buzzer,” which allows each judge to save an act — but only once during the season. “I was the first to use the golden buzzer. I don't know if I squandered my opportunity,” Mandel said.
There will also be a “boot camp,” allowing acts to perform for the first time in front of a live audience. “It makes you rise up,” he explained. “There are a couple of differences this season, and some of it is going to be a surprise. But it is going to be different.”
Mandel, who was happy to share his enthusiasm for the show, also said that this time performers will be taking the stage at Madison Square Garden and the Dolby Theater in Hollywood. There's much more pressure.”
“When you're the most talented person in Poughkeepsie, fine,” host Nick Cannon said. “You're great in your home town, but are you great with everyone in L.A. or New York? I've never seen better talent than this year.”
“I think we are truly really excited about what we've seen,” Mandel said. “We genuinely will look at each other… and say can you believe that guy did that. You mentioned the guy chewing the through a license plate, and that's nothing compared to what you're gonna see.”
“He didn't just chew through a license plate,” Klum said. “There was more to his act.”
Klum may have been impressed by the license plate chewer, but weird alone doesn't do it for the former model. “Some people do plain stupid, silly things. Like, I've never seen this before, but no one should see that. But sometimes there are… things people should see, then America can judge they go to the end… I don't care how sad or deep the background story is if the act is bad.”
“For me, its about the whole package,” Mel B said. “I want to like somebody as well. It has to be both. The act has to be good and they have to be likable, because America is voting for them.
When asked what they've liked best this season, Cannon quickly replied, “Twerking.” While Mel B voted for comedians and Klum chose magicians, it seems Mandel is looking for something specific. “I love people who are legitimately funny and real characters. I loved Tiny Tim… What's lacking in today's landscape of entertainment is a real, genuine, wacky, lovable character. And this year we have a lot.”
Are you going to watch “America's Got Talent” this year?