'America's Got Talent' reveals the competition's Top 10 performers
By John Bracchitta, 09/12/2008
NBC's America's Got Talent whittled its group of performers down to 10 on Thursday's live elimination broadcast of the reality competition series.
"Over the last two nights you've seen our top 20 fighting to stay in the competition, you've made your decision and, well, the results are in," said host Jerry Springer, who added that deciding the Top 10 contestants was sure to be an emotional night for acts and judges alike.
The results announcement used a format very similar to the one that had been used to reveal the Top 20 contestants and began with the top four vote-getting acts from both Tuesday and Wednesday nights shows being awarded spots, while the bottom four vote-getters were eliminated.
The fifth and sixth highest vote-getters from each night then went before Talent judges Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne and David Hasselhoff who selected one contestant from each night to complete the top ten.
From Tuesday's show; Rocky Mount, VA family band The Wright Kids, 32-year-old opera singer Neal E. Boyd, 40-year-old soul singer Queen Emily, and 70-year-old Frank Sinatra impersonator Paul Salos all moved on to the Top 10 while ZOOperstars!, The James Gang, Extreme Dance FX, and Cadence were eliminated.
From Wednesday's show: 4-year old singer Kaitlyn Maher, Texas singer Donald Braswell, hip-hop violin duo Nuttin But Strings, and 26-year-old pianist/singer Eli Mattson all were voted into the Top 10 while The Tapping Dads, Sickstep, The Tauble Family, and Sarah Lenore were all eliminated.
The fifth and sixth place vote-getters from Tuesday's show -- former U.S. Army Specialist turned singer/guitarist Daniel Jens and singer Jessica Price -- went before the judges to see which act would be moving on and going home
"Finally. I didn't know you were gonna start with me," joked David after being told that he would be the first judge to vote instead of the last.
"I speak through my heart and I speak with deep respect for both of you. Jessica you've come a long way from the very beginning, he told the Freeport, MI singer. "I mean you sang at fairs, look where you are now."
Amid applause, he predicted that had her amazing charisma would help her attain a successful career regardless of the judge's decision.
Regarding Daniel, who had served in Iraq before entering the competition, David spoke of the inspiration he been to all of the contestants while performing on the show.
"Whether you get past here or not, don't go back to Iraq. You paid your dues brother," David said.
When it came down to making a decision, David said that his opinion ultimately boiled down to who was the most diversified entertainer and could sustain in Las Vegas, for which he picked Jessica.
Disagreeing somewhat, Sharon was unsure if either act could sustain an audience in Vegas.
"Therefore it's not the talent," she said of the factors in her decision making. "I'm going with my heart, and as a mom, I'm sorry but it just has to be Daniel."
"No pressure here" joked Piers, who was left with the decisive vote in which Tuesday night act would get through to the top 10.
Saying that Jessica had been a disappointed him in her last performance, Piers said that he felt she could do much better. Regarding Daniel, who he called a "curios one," Piers took a moment to clarify an earlier comment in which he told Daniel to go and fight for country was said respectfully and not an insult.
"I'm gonna go with the act I genuinely believe has the basic talent to compete in the top 10 of this competition, and that is Jessica," Piers said, giving her a spot in the top ten.
When it came time to decide between the final two contestants from Wednesday's competition -- 18-year-old baton twirler Jonathan Burkin and 23-year-old Elvis impersonator Joseph Hall -- Piers acknowledged that the decision was "very, very difficult because they are two very different acts."
He called Jonathan a "brilliant" performer who "doesn't make mistakes," but warned that his drop in votes could be attributed to the public's feeling that they may have already "seen the best of you."
Regarding Joseph, Piers said that he felt the Elvis impersonator had been "brilliant" at the start of the show, "not so good in middle [rounds]," and then "brilliant" again on Wednesday.
"I am only gonna go with my vote because I believe there is more to see with this act, and it's gonna be Joseph."
After mixing up the names initially, Sharon wasted no time as she voted for Jonathan, whom she referred to simply as "baton boy."
Left with the deciding vote, David told both acts they deserved to move into the top ten and acknowledged the difficulty of the decision facing him.
"It's an impossible decision. Jonathan I love what you do. You know I have fought for you. You know all those kids who didn't stick up for you are watching tonight. You have an incredible act," he said of the Clyde, OH baton twirler.
Turning his attention to Joseph, David had similar praises.
"I think you're amazing. I think you have an amazing career as Elvis," he said.
As the show's credits began to roll, David came to his decision.
"Who do I think can sustain the act in Vegas? I gotta go with Joseph," he said, sending the Lincoln, NE impersonator to the top ten.