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HOME > America's Got Talent > America's Got Talent 8

'America's Got Talent' judges Melanie Brown and Howie Mandel talk more


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 06/05/2013 

America's Got Talent premiered its eighth season Tuesday night at 9PM ET/PT on NBC.
 
Heidi Klum and Melanie Brown -- the former Spice Girls member and Dancing with the Stars participant commonly known as "Mel B" -- joined returning judges Howard Stern and Howie Mandel on the show's panel this summer.

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The addition of Mel B. and the Project Runway host and supermodel marks the first time in America's Got Talent history the show has featured four judges. Heidi and Mel B. replaced Sharon Osbourne, who chose to leave the reality talent competition at the conclusion of last season.
 
During a recent conference call with reporters, Mel B. and Howie talked about the upcoming edition and what viewers can expect to see. Below is the concluding portion of their call. Click here to read the first half.

The Spice Girls sort of coined the whole idea of "girl power" and kind of paved the way for female performers. Mel B., how important was the idea of girl power and empowering female performers to you as a judge and what were the implications for the show for the audience?

Melanie Brown: Well I mean, I think between me and Heidi, we kind of root for the girls to be extra-specially good because we're all about supporting women. And, I'd love, you know, a woman or a girl group to actually win this season. That's just where I come from, and Heidi's the same. She's all about creating that girl that's extra confident and knows herself and is not shy or ashamed or embarrassed of who she is.

And we've seen a lot of really talented women on this stage. You know, we're done with all our auditions so now we're going to go into boot camp and I'm worried because of the 300, 400 people that we've seen, we have to whittle it down to like 40 or 50 people or acts, and it's going to be so, so, so tough because we've had an equal amount of lady talent and boy talent, and everything else in between. So it's going to be really hard.

Is the chemistry for everyone off-camera as great as it seems to be between the two of you?

Melanie Brown: I think what you see is what you get with us on-camera, and then off-camera we have even more fun sometimes because we can say totally inappropriate things to each other that wouldn't be that appropriate for the family show of AGT.

But I mean, I think all of us as judges are very, very honest, and I sit next to Howie and he has me cracking up every five seconds, and that's what I really respect about all four of us. We all hold our own and we're just all very honest. And, we all think differently sometimes.

Howie Mandel:  You know, I think she said the key word, and the key word is "respect." And, we respect each other and each other's opinion though we don't agree and there's times where we really -- and we're all four very strong-minded, opinionated people and we'll fight for what we think is right and honestly think sometimes the other person's wrong.

And it could get heated. But at the end of the day, we respect each other and enjoy working with each other. So as she says, what you see is what you get, but that doesn't mean we all, you know, agree, which I think makes for good television and good criticism, and it's good for the acts to hear different opinions and different sides.

What is your favorite part of this season thus far?

Howie Mandel:  Just the phone conference calls that we get to do. I mean, I love this. It's not about the camera. It's not about the talent. It's just -- this is fun, because for me, I'm a germaphobe and I'm talking to so many people yet nobody's with me and I love that.

Melanie Brown:  For me, the best thing is just to join the show. I've been a fan of this show for years. I've sat and watched with my whole entire family, so it's like -- kind of like an honor to be finally on that judging panel.

I mean, who would've thought? I wouldn't have thought actually I would even have this opportunity, so I'm just really thankful. You know, Howie's sitting there naked. God knows what he's doing on this phone. We have no idea.

Howie Mandel:  Naked...

Melanie Brown: Your voice makes me nervous like I'm in trouble.

Howie Mandel:  I know. I love that.

I know you said the show's a lot about variety and not about traditional singers and dancers. So as the show's eighth season, is there anything you're specifically hoping to see out of the contestants this year?

Howie Mandel:  Yes. And I think it's kind of a redundant answer because I always give the same answer. But it always ends up coming through, and that is to see something we've never seen before.

To see something so original, it doesn't even fit a category. To see something that is so new and so daring, and so different, and -- where you just go number one, "How did you think of that?" Number two is, you know, "How did you have the -- where have you been for the last couple of years?" And it's so exciting that you're unveiling this great talent on our stage.

And I can tell you honestly -- and maybe this answers the previous question -- the greatest and most exciting moment so far, and it's happened more this season than any other season, is that is when our jaw drops -- when you go, "Oh, my God." When we look at each other without any words and go, "Oh, my God. What are we watching? What is this? You know, what category?" It's not a singer. It's not a dancer. "What is this person doing and how amazing is this?" And, "I need to see more of it."

Melanie Brown: I agree with all of the above.

I know Howie, you were involved in a lot of stand-up comedy, and Mel you're performing onstage, so do you have empathy towards the people that come onstage and display those talents to you?

Howie Mandel:  I do. You know, I really do, because I think -- and I'm not saying -- I am saying it because I'm one and I do it. I think that being a stand-up comic is probably one of the hardest things in the competition in as far as America's Got Talent, because in order to achieve what you're trying to achieve, you need to elicit more from an audience than any other act.

If you sing a song, they're looking for a hand at the end of the song. If you do a magic trick, you're looking for a ta-da at the end. If you do anything else, you're just looking -- you need to -- if you're standing up there and doing stand-up comedy, you need to hear laughter, which is a tough emotion to elicit from strangers you know only 30 seconds. Because if it's quiet in the room, regardless of how funny you think you are, it's not working.

So, I do have a lot of empathy. They have a tough job. And then when they go on after the end of these 14-hour days and they follow something atrocious or we're just really tired, or the whole audience is tired, or it's hot in the room, I have so much empathy because it's really hard to do well.

And even at this point in my career where I feel like I -- you know, I make a living at stand-up comedy, there are nights where you know things don't go my way and it's not always my fault.

So I have empathy for anybody that gets up there and is willing to put themselves out like that, but I try to remove myself from what's happening in the room and hear it for what it is. And we have a lot of great comedy this year. Even more than last year, and I think Tom Cotter inspired that from last year.

Melanie Brown: Just to add to that. I definitely think that it's an experience to get up on there and actually be critiqued and learn what did work and what didn't work, because it's not always going to go your way unless you've completely got your act -- whether it be a singing act, whether it be a danger act -- so rehearsed and so specific on point that it's not going to be able to go through.

I mean, we've had people that have just crumbled. We've had people that have just succeeded like beyond, and it's all about preparation I think. And, obviously being extremely, extremely talented. And it is quite daunting. But at the same time, I like it when I can feel that -- those people's nerves. I can feel the anticipation of, "Can I do it? Can I deliver?" I find it really exciting.

Mel B., what was it that made you decide that you wanted to judge this show?

Melanie Brown: Why not? It's America's Got Talent. Everybody loves this show. Everybody watches it. Everybody talks about it. You know, it's one thing that you sit down with your family and you're actually enjoying it. You do it from your own sofa in your front room.

You know, I was living in Australia and I got offered the job, and I said, "Yes." It wasn't even a thought of, "Well, I've got to move the whole family back to LA." I checked in with my kids that they didn't mind moving schools and then we were just here within like a couple of weeks and it's been the best move ever. And, I think that I'm part of one of the best shows on TV, or that's going to -- or that's about to be on TV.

Have you learned anything about yourself through this experience so far this season?

Melanie Brown:  I'm amazing. (Laughs)

Howie Mandel:  And Mel has continuously told me that she's amazing, so I don't have a moment to think about myself... because Mel B. is constantly telling me how amazing she is.

Melanie Brown:  Thanks. You're going to write that and I'm going to sound like a complete douche bag.

Howie Mandel:  But an amazing one.

Above is the concluding portion of Mel B. and Howie's recent conference call with reporters. Click here to read the first half.

(Photo credit NBC)


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