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Q&A Interview with AMERICA'S GOT TALENT Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Mel B, Heidi Klum & Nick Cannon

Maj Canton - August 3, 2016





America, get ready for a colorful array of variety acts and contestants of all ages as NBC's summer series AMERICA'S GOT TALENT returns for it's 11th season beginning Tuesday, May 31, 2016 from 8-10pm ET/PT. New judge Simon Cowell, who created the GOT TALENT format that first launched with AGT in 2006, will highlight this season.  Returning are host Nick Cannon and judges Howie Mandel, Mel B, and Heidi Klum along with the Golden Buzzer that allows four lucky acts the chance to go directly to the live performance rounds at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles to compete for America's vote and the $1 million grand prize.


Tonight (Wednesday, August 3, 2016) from 8-9pm ET (live)/PT (tape), NBC premieres the second of this season's live results shows, as America finds out which of the 12 acts earned a coveted spot in the semifinals. Did any of the Golden Buzzer performers -- Sal Valentinetti, Calysta Bevier and Dorothy Williams -- win America's vote?



Recently TV Tango attended the NBC Universal Summer Press Day where the stars of AMERICA'S GOT TALENT answered reporters questions about the upcoming new season.

Howie, Mel B, Heidi, and Simon at NBC Universal Summer Press Day

Question: Simon, What did it mean to be off the air in this country for the first time in a very long time and now to come back?

SIMON COWELL: I told the guys last night that when I came down, I think this is about two years ago, and I came down to watch the show being filmed. I was sitting in the audience, thinking they are very good, the panel. But I was kind of hoping one of them would hurt themselves. Not badly, but enough that I would have to go "I'm here," because it really, really looked so much fun, this show. I was offered to do it five years ago, but I couldn't do it. This felt like the perfect timing. It's been a lot of fun, it was worth the wait to come back to this. There were some bad days. There was one day I actually said I think I've lost the will to live...some weirdo doing some kind art thing. But when you discover a star or you think that could become a star, you'll never forget that moment -- never forget that audition. This is a lot of fun, by the way. Judging dogs is easier than singers.

HOWIE MANDEL: As somebody working with you, Simon -- and I think this goes for everybody else in the panel -- we didn't know what to expect with, you know, the boss is going to join us. You have a reputation that precedes you. Everybody's kind of said, "What is this going to be?" It is more fun than we have ever had in the history of this show. If we're all having a good time, we feel like we're at the best party in the world. As luck would have it, we have had a level of talent that has showed up this year far beyond any year before.

Howie, Mel B, Heidi, and Simon at auditions at Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

(Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

Question: Are we going see extraordinary talent this season?

SIMON COWELL: Well, I think, without giving too much away -- which I probably will now -- there's 13-year-old girl and there are some others. Some of the most amazing auditions we've had in a long, long time.

HEIDI KLUM: People are getting more creative. They want to top themselves or top something that they've seen before. I think because Simon is here, there are more singers this year.

SIMON COWELL: Yeah, more singers have turned up. The singers, I've got to tell you, are way better than I could have hoped for. So, yeah, it's good.

HOWIE MANDEL: What's been really fun -- and we haven't done this on the show before -- is watching Simon produce the show. So somebody will sing. Traditionally, we would give somebody an X or just go, "Oh, that was a horrible choice.” Simon, because that's his business first and foremost, will identify something and say, "Stop. Don't sing that song. Here. Just sing a cappella. Lose the track. Don't sing that song. Slow it down. Lower your voice an octave." Then, all of us who have been sitting on the panel, who have pretty much X'd, we go, "Oh, my God. How did you hear that in there?" So you're watching something blossom in the moment of an audition that we never saw happen before on our show. It's kind of interesting. I don't think we see that happening or that process on television.

Ryan Stock & Amberlynn during AGT auditions @ Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

(Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

Question: What is one type of audition you just never ever want to see again?

HEIDI KLUM: The nasty, weird things. I mean, there was one person (pictured left) with a meat hook through the nose, out the throat with a bowling ball hanging off it. That was the most disgusting thing I've ever seen. Those kinds of things, I don't need to see. I don't even know how to explain that to my kids.

MEL B: Well, even though I turn around, I still kind of want to see it, because it's that disgusting and that gross, how somebody could even come up with that. Oh, I'm going to stick this meat hook in my nose and make it come out of my mouth. It's ridiculously fabulous, I think.

HOWIE MANDEL: Me, I don't want to ever see a mime. I hate mimes. I don't like mimes. They put on this scary face and they're always trapped in a box or it's too windy or they can't get downstairs. It just screams trouble in silence. I hate mime. If I never seen a mime again, my life will be better.

NICK CANNON: I hate being scared on the show. I mean, even yesterday when we were watching the tightrope walk, when it feels like someone can die on the show, I don't want no part of that. I'm thinking like, "Oh, man. If someone dies on this show, it's going be horrible for press. That's all I'm going to be talking about. TMZ is going to be here." I just want people to not die.

SIMON COWELL: Clowns. By the way, I actually hate them. I'm scared of them and am now allergic to them. And then, one of the last acts one evening was a clown who was, in life, a permanent clown. They're never funny and they keep honking things after everything they say. Like you think that's going to be funny, honk, honk. And it's not, honk.

Question: Nick, you've been in some near death experiences. Is that going to occur this season as well?

NICK CANNON: Absolutely. It happens all the time. I don't know why NBC likes to risk my life. I'm always on the stage. It really comes from a place of having empathy for whoever's going on stage. I want them to have the best experience possible. I know how much courage it takes to just even get out there. I always say before, "Whatever you need, I'm here for you." I get to be the cheerleader going on and the therapist coming off.

HEIDI KLUM: Some of them (contestants) are steaming. Some are really angry when we give them all an X.

Question: Over the years has there been a particular talent that actually got robbed and you thought someone should have won and they didn't?

HEIDI KLUM: For me, who got robbed was the regurgitator. I was obsessed with the regurgitator. There's no one like him.

HOWIE MANDEL: I don't think anybody got robbed. Whether America chooses you over somebody else, it is so subjective -- nobody loses on our show.

Question: Who are the poor souls who have to winnow through the people who audition. You get the cream of the crop evidently. But how does that process work?

SIMON COWELL: It's the hardest job in the world. A lot of the time, some of the people, most of the people who are put in front of us who are horrible, there's normally one producer sitting in the back row with his hands over his head going, "Well, he was good when he came to my room," or she was good. So they do make mistakes. But it's tough.

HOWIE MANDEL: The show has 100 talent producers. They have thousands and thousands of people show up to every city, and they work 12 months a year, constantly on the road. No matter how big the lineup is, they all get seen. Nobody is turned away. So they do get in front of producers for an opportunity at this. We saw a family who I think is wonderful; they've been coming to auditions for six years. They didn't get the opportunity to be on the show. They came on the show, and I won't talk about how they did. But they just keep coming back, and in this business, you got to keep going.