America’s Got Talent underwent big shake ups for season 14, but Simon Cowell explained that the changes were necessary as part of a long running show.
The executive producer and creator of AGT stressed, in a recent interview with USA Today, that the departures of Mel B. and Heidi Klum from the judges panel were not statements on their talent or capabilities. And as far as former host Tyra Banks is concerned, she was “always going to be a one- or two-year deal.”
“It wasn’t like it wasn’t working. Everyone who’s been on the show over the years, judge or host, has done a brilliant job,” he said. “It’s just one of those shows where I think occasionally they just like to rotate the panel.” He added that casting changes originate with NBC.
Additionally, Simon revealed, Mel B.’s messy personal life had nothing to do with her leaving. “Oh, no. She was very professional. Whatever was going on in her private life, she never brought to the show,” Simon said
Commenting on the new panel members, which include Julianne Hough and Gabrielle Union, who will sit alongside Simon and Howie Mandel: “With Gabrielle, we spent a couple of hours talking and I really connected with her. She wants to do the show for the right reasons. She’s very interested in the process for discovering talent.”
As far as Julianne is concerned, Simon said that it took a bit for the former Dancing with the Stars judge and pro to get used to him.
After a few week’s on the job, Simon asked Julianne, “Have you ever worked for one day on a job where you thought you’d made a big mistake?” She said, “Yes. This job.” She further explained that she didn’t get Simon’s sense of humor at first, but “when the producers explained it, I understood it was you kidding around.”
Simon said that as a judge, “she’s very funny, very emotional, very kind. And she loves the talent.”
Interestingly, Simon said he first met host Terry Crews on the first day of filming America’s Got Talent: The Champions. “We just clicked,” he said. “He is great with the contestants and he’s interested in their stories.” said Simon. “He has an amazing energy. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Simon namechecks Kodi Lee, a young singer who is blind and autistic, as a contestant to watch. “I hope the public will love him and I think they will,” he said.
Also, Simon has a thing for danger acts. One competitor called The Human Fuse is set on fire and launched into the air by a catapult. “I thought he was brilliant,” Simon said. “A part of me wants to do it as well. I’ve just got this thing in me at the moment where I want to do danger stunts.”
America’s Got Talent season 14 premieres tonight at 8 pm ET on NBC.