For Simon Cowell and America’s Got Talent, The Show Must Go On
Simon Cowell recently shared how the new season of America’s Got Talent will proceed after the coronavirus pandemic shut down production.
The live shows are scheduled to air later this summer. And like American Idol and The Voice, competitions that finished their respective seasons with at home episodes, Simon is determined to air them one way or another.
“We’ve worked out about three different scenarios for how we can shoot the live shows with or without an audience, or a limited audience. And each one of them creatively works,” Simon told People magazine. “The most important thing is that we have to ensure that since people have auditioned, that they do get the chance safely to be able to compete as they normally do, and get that chance to win a million dollars, or at least appear in the final.”
Simon Cowell: There will be America’s Got Talent finals, there will be a winner
Simon added: “So, we have been racking our brains, but I think that the creative solutions that we’ve come up with, I don’t think are going to make the production or the show suffer. It definitely gives people the opportunity to do what they would normally do every year, and to make sure that we follow through on our promise that they’re going to compete. There will be finals, and there will be a winner. Someone’s going to walk away with a million dollars.”
Ratings for The Voice and American Idol remote episodes fell sharply vs their studio counterparts. Simon probably has his fingers crossed that NBC will at least be able to film live in studio, even if its without an audience.
Innovations from “other shows” helped lead the way
Simon doesn’t name names, but it appears that he watched both American Idol and The Voice for pointers on how to move forward during a pandemic.
“When you’re all in the same boat, you’ve really, really got to use your brain now to go, ‘Right, how is there a different way of doing something which still looks great, feels great, and feels as good as previous years?'” he told People. “Some of the new innovations I’ve already seen from other shows show me that there are different ways of producing these shows where the quality doesn’t suffer, because I don’t believe the future is going to be these remote shows. It’s necessary at this time, but it’s not the future.”
Coronavirus shutdown hit before AGT finished taping auditions
Earlier this year, auditions were filmed in front of a live audience at the Pasadena Civic Center in California. But as coronavirus concerns increased, AGT was forced to eliminate the studio audiences. A few more auditions were taped before production officially shut down. In the meantime, Heidi Klum had already left set with a mysterious illness. She eventually tested negative for Covid-19.
“We started to realize that, for obvious reasons, the audience was getting smaller and smaller and smaller,” Simon told People. “We had this obligation to make sure that everyone got their fair share, and was auditioned well,” He added that it was “really, really important to every single person who turned up.”
“So, we literally squeezed in as many, many people as we could,” he said. “And as you’ll see from the first episode, we found some unbelievably talented people — just fantastic people this year.”
AGT accepted online submissions, began auditioning acts remotely from home
In addition to the audition episodes that were filmed, AGT accepted online submissions from acts who auditioned remotely from their homes.
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“Anyone who we saw on that online component now can be considered to be one of the semi-finalists or finalists,” said Simon. “They’re pretty much in the same position as the people who did regular auditions.” Simon added, “The important thing was trying to make sure that the people we missed, as much as possible, were still given an opportunity to compete in the show.”
Season 15 of America’s Got Talent premieres Tonight (May 26) at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.