If you liked this past season of America’s Got Talent, NBC has some great news for you. For the first time in a few years, the exact same grouping of judges will return for consecutive seasons. Howard Stern, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Melanie Brown will all spend this summer in the exact same seats they occupied last time around, and host Nick Cannon will continue to emcee, as well. At a glance, the decision would seem to be a huge vote of confidence from Peacock Network executives to the on-air personalities, but upon further review, it might actually be a huge vote of confidence from Howard Stern.
While fielding questions from longtime sidekick Robin Quivers about his decision to return, Stern said the producers asked him if he wanted to come back or if it was contingent on anyone else either joining him or having their contracts terminated. As per Deadline, he reportedly told the executives to “let them all come back.” If it happened exactly as reported, it means Stern has even more power than we first realized and is considered the principal star by the decision makers.
Following his initial signing two years ago, America’s Got Talent picked up production and moved it from Los Angeles to New York to accommodate Stern’s schedule. With ratings up and buzz still very solid, there’s every reason to think the show would be very committed to maintaining his happiness. Luckily, he’s apparently not the most demanding guy.
Now, from a co-star perspective, there is definitely two ways this situation could be looked at. Either Howie and company could be livid that their fellow judge has a huge say over their own fates, or they could simply be happy that he really likes the talent the way it’s structured now and has no interest in changing any of it. For the health of the show, I truly hope it’s the latter. Besides, it’s not as if Howard did anything to demand that power. He’s simply the biggest name and biggest draw, and with that popularity comes certain perks.
Auditions are currently underway to find the next big variety act. No date has been announced for when the show might return this summer, but it’s a good bet that we’ll see the program either near the end of May or the very beginning of June. After all, there’s really no point in competing against the last few weeks of the more popular shows on television when you could assumedly just take many of those viewers without a fight when competing against soft summer competition.
As a reminder of why watching AGT is sometimes worth it, here’s last year’s winner Kenichi Ebina tearing it up…