Entertainment » Television

America’s Got Talent heads to Orlando

by Robert Nesti
EDGE National Arts & Entertainment Editor
Tuesday Feb 9, 2010

America’s Got Talent is something of the younger sibling to "American Idol." It was also co-created by Simon Cowell and follows a similar format: performers compete in a talent show format before three judges and the American public with the goal of fame; but unlike "Idol," there’s a not-so-small fortune of a one million dollar award. It’s a bit like Slumdog Millionaire meets the old Ed Sullivan Show.

While Cowell does not appear as a judge in the American version, he does perform those duties in its British counterpart - Britain’s Got Talent. It was on that show that Susan Boyle electrified the world with her version of "I Dreamed a Dream" last April - making the show part of the most watched video in the history of YouTube. Will there be an American talent this year that eclipses her? Tune in this June.

Welcome Howie

Since it premiered in 2006 it has consistently been a ratings winner - last year it was the most popular show of the summer season for the fourth year in a row. This June it enters its fifth season with host Nick Cannon and returning judges Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan, plus a new judge - Howie Mandel who replaces David Hasselhoff and a new array of talent.

"Howie is one of America’s favorite entertainers and his sense of humor and energy are irrepressible," said Paul Telegdy, Executive Vice President, Alternative Programming, NBC and Universal Media Studios.. "He’s passionate about new talent and his years of experience across a variety of disciplines in entertainment, not to mention the fact that he headlines and performs in Vegas all the time, will bring new depth to our panel. He will be a real asset to our contestants and help them take their talents to the next level. We are thrilled to have him join Sharon and Piers and are sure that sparks will fly!"

Like "Idol," to get the talent, the show’s producers go on the road, moving from city-to-city in search of contestants who will compete in Vegas. So far the scouts have traveled to Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago and Dallas. This weekend they head to Orlando.

For an example of the show’s success look no further than the subsequent career of 2nd season winner ventriloquist Terry Fator. In 2008 he signed a deal to headline at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas for five years at a reported deal worth $100 million dollars.

The Orlando auditions will take place February 13 and 14, 2010 at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando, 6300 Hollywood Way, Orlando, FL 32819. For more information, visit America’s Got Talent audition page.

From there the scouts move onto Atlanta (February 20 - 21) and Portland, Oregon (February 28 - March 1).

When the show passed through Boston last spring, EDGE caught up with the show’s executive producer Jason Raff about the audition process he’s an integral part of.


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