America’s Got Talent: How Judge Cuts, Lives Will Air Amid Covid-19

America’s Got Talent 2020 is plowing on amid coronavirus concerns. Before the California lockdown halted production back in March, AGT managed to film most of the auditions. Eventually, the acts had to perform in an empty theater. And once the lockdown became mandatory, judges Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Sofia Vergara and host Terry Crews, conducted at home auditions.

The cast and crew recently began filming the Judge Cuts, set to begin airing on July 28 working within the state social distancing guidelines. Now, USA Today has more details regarding how executive producer Simon Cowell is moving ahead with the competition.

America’s Got Talent 2020 Begins Filming Judge Cuts…Safely! (Photos)

Typically, the Judge Cuts last four weeks. Eighteen or so acts perform again for the judges and at the end of eachh episode, seven advance to the next round. Each week, celebrity guest judges choose a golden buzzer to go straight to the live shows.

Now, forget all of that. The series is cutting the Judge Cuts to the bare essentials.

Here’s what to expect from the Judge Cuts:

  • The Judge Cuts round is only ONE episode airing July 28. The judges will consider the fates of 60 acts, advancing some without requiring them to perform again. Ten bubble acts perform remotely, with five qualifying for the live shows. 
  • NBC will fill the extra weeks with a season 15 clip show on July 21 and a 15th anniversary special on Aug 4. 
  • The auditions were staged outdoors in Simi Valley, California.
  • The four judges showed up separately in cars. “We have the four judges show up separately in cars” that reflect their personalities,” said NBC exec Jenny Groom. “They walk on to set and it’s this big, kind of drive-in movie screen. They walk to their (socially distanced) director chairs and watch the performers on a big screen and then speak to them, live from the places that they were, about their performances and whether they were moving forward. It ended up being really inspiring.”
  • Extensive coronavirus testing took place, with crew working in separate pods to avoid cross contamination. Small crews were able to travel and assist with filming remote acts.

What to expect from the Live Shows

  • The number of live shows will be expanded, to partly compensate for the loss of performances during the shortened Judge Cuts round. Forty-four acts will perform over four weeks of live quarterfinals which begin Aug 11. That, instead of the 36 acts who performed over three weeks in prior seasons.
  • Production hopes to have as many acts as possible perform LIVE on stage in front of the judges, while relying on a smaller crew.
  • Producers haven’t settled on a live shows venue yet. It could be their traditional home, Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre.  The audience component could be virtual. 

Judge Cuts Outdoor Set

America's Got Talent 2020 Judge Cuts
via Sofia Vergara’s Instagram


About mj santilli 34841 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!