NBC’s America’s Got Talent has been able to stay TV’s top-rated show for four straight summers with each episode evoking great attention from viewers worldwide.
Season 5 of America’s Got Talent began this Tuesday and Talent judge Piers Morgan said the entertainment caliber of this series will be the best till date.
Given the Talent’s $1 million grand prize and its variety format, the series has never lacked for starry-eyed hopefuls. In 12 cities, including Denver, Chicago, Orlando, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, executive producer Jason Raff saw contestants using turkey basters as musical instruments, male belly dancers, a kid who manipulates his eyebrows to music and a guy whose eyes remain open when he sneezes.
“After five years, it still amazes me what people will do,” says Raff, whose crew uncovered country singer Kevin Skinner, the Kentucky chicken wrangler who won top prize last year.
Howie Mandel, who replaced David Hasselhoff as a judge, says he got a kick out of many of the tryouts.
“I love great talent, but I love bad talent, too,” he says. “I’ve been onstage for 32 years. I think I can identify the ‘it’ factor, the wow factor.”
Yet at times, there were surreal moments. “There’s a thin delineation between an act and real life,” Mandel says. “There was a girl chewing on a light bulb, her smile darkened by blood. It didn’t look real at first. I thought this must be an act. But then she was on her way to the hospital.”
Thousands of auditions prompted “a lot of ‘Oh my Lord’ moments,” says host Nick Cannon.
Howie Mandel, who replaced David Hasselhoff as a judge, said that he will identify the “it” factor after spending 32 years on the stage.