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HOME > America's Got Talent > America's Got Talent 5

Piers Morgan: 'America's Got Talent's fifth season has best talent ever


By Christopher Rocchio, 06/01/2010 

Piers Morgan has served on every Britain's Got Talent and America's Got Talent judging panel, and he feels that America's Got Talent's fifth-season talent pool is the best ever.

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"I can say it as a fact from my nine seasons of doing the British and American shows, in my view the pool of talent on this year's season of America's Got Talent is the best that I've known on any of the shows, whether it's Britain or American," Morgan told reporters during a Wednesday conference call.

"So, I think it's a very exciting season."

Morgan said he feels part of reason why the talent pool is so deep is because of the "Susan Boyle phenomenon" since she "came from nowhere" to finish as the runner-up on Britain's Got Talent's third season last year.

"I think we had a real kick back from Susan. I think she encouraged tens of thousands more people to come and audition both in Britain and America. And, the result is that we had got just an incredible array of talent. I mean the best I've seen," Morgan told reporters.

"I think the singers are incredible this year. The dancers are very current and feel very different to previous seasons. We've got some great magic acts, which we haven't had for a long time. I think we've got some really unusual variety acts."

While Morgan said the show has "lots of good singers" on the upcoming season, he said there could have been even more.

"Quite a few of them went home because we don't just want to have 48 singers in the finals. So it's tougher for the singers on America's Got Talent actually, because they're competing with dancers, and jugglers, and fire eaters, and piano playing pigs, and all the rest of it," he explained.

"We don't just want to have a signing competition. So, I think the singers who make the finals on our show often are as good if not better than American Idol, because they have to be."

America's Got Talent's fifth season will be its first without David Hasselhoff, who announced in early January that he was leaving the reality series after serving on its judging panel since it premiered in 2006.

"We all miss David. He's a fantastic character. He's a complete one off. I've never met anyone like him, and I consider him to be a good friend of mine. He wanted to leave the show to go and do his own show, which he's now doing," Morgan told reporters.

"I miss the whole circus that comes with David Hasselhoff, and I mean that in a good way. He's like a circus. He's endless entertaining."

NBC subsequently tapped Deal or No Deal and Howie Do It star Howie Mandel to replace Hasselhoff and join Morgan fellow returning judge Sharon Osbourne.

"I think the chemistry was immediately very good with Howie. He's a very, very funny guy. He was very generous I felt, to Sharon and I, from the moment he came on the show, and remained that way throughout the auditions. He's a guy who clearly loves the show," said Morgan.

"His energy and enthusiasm are completely infectious, and every time I'd be moaning about having to work too hard or work too late, Howie would be bouncing off the walls with excitement and that was very, very good for the show. I think that he brings a very fresh and different feel to it."

In addition, Morgan noted that the judges aren't the most important part of the America's Got Talent format.

"I think that each year that we've switched things around, and it's always worked very well. The ratings got bigger every year. The format means to me that the most important thing is the contestants," he explained.

"So although I miss David on a personal level, I think that Howie's come straight into the show. He was a massively big fan of the show anyway, and I think he's fitted in very quickly. He made a point of doing that. I think he's incredibly entertaining on the show in a very different way to David."

Mandel, who also participated in the conference call, described his new role on America's Got Talent's judging panel as a "dream come true."

"First of all, I've been watching it since Season 1, and I've been doing this job in my underpants from my couch without getting paid. So to be invited to the party is great. I love nothing better than this business. I've been in this business for over 30 years. I love taking part in it. I love talking about it. I love creating it. I have my television on 24/7. I can't sleep without it," Mandel told reporters.

"I love everything from phenomenal entertainment to the worst possible entertainment. I'm fascinated by why somebody thought that that might be good, or even broadcastable. So, to sit there and to be able to  watch and be entertained, and maybe even be positively critical and help somebody on a journey toward their dreams is like a dream come true."

In addition, Mandel said he had no idea Hasselhoff was leaving the show and there was an available spot on the judging panel until he was contacted about it.

"It's such a different venue for me -- to not have the weight of trying to carry a show or host a show on my shoulders and not have any lines to memorize or marks to hit or commercials to throw to," explained Mandel.

"I am just like a viewer that gets to see it in even better than HD, and comment. I'm not doing anything different than the people at home are doing."

Mandel added that since he's been a comedian for more than three decades, he feels for America's Got Talent hopefuls.

"I have empathy because I'm also an entertainer and I know how they feel," he said. "And at many of these stages where the people are auditioning, I've played myself, so I put myself in that position."

While he's an America's Got Talent fan and also an entertainer who empathizes with the hopefuls, Mandel said he was surprised at how real the contestants come across.

"These are real people. You're not just watching TV -- like the people at home. These are real people with real hopes and real dreams. They put everything on the line," he explained.

"You see people and you give them criticism or you say something and they break down -- they break down and there's tears and there's blood, and it's just real and means so much to these people. It's just that you don't get from sitting on your couch watching."

Mandel said he approached the judging panel by being "honest" with everyone.

"That being said, I kind of embrace the craziness of it all," he said. "I think that we're lacking that today, and hopefully this year you'll see a couple of those moments of this in the show."

Morgan assured reporters that there are several of those moments on the show's fifth season.

"Just when I think we've seen everything, then out pop these acts where you just sit there. It's typically amusing for me with Howie at the other end, who's never done the show before," said Morgan. "There was a moment I think when a guy came on and blew up his underpants with gun powder. And I just turned to Howie and went, 'Yep. This is the show, Howie.'"

While Morgan said Mandel "tends to be very supportive of acts" that he would personally try to stay away from, he added the new judge wasn't all compliments.

"I would say that he was surprisingly critical when you wouldn't expect him to be and surprisingly supportive when you wouldn't. So there's a real element of unpredictability, which I think is really good for the show," explained Morgan.

"As a viewer, to have no real idea of which way a judge is going to go is very good because it adds to the suspense and the drama and it means you are going to get acts getting through the final stages that perhaps wouldn't get there otherwise who are variety and different. And as Howie says, entertaining in maybe an unusual way that isn't too stereotypical."

Morgan described Osbourne as "a rose between two thorns" sitting between Mandel and himself.

"I think Sharon's the one who provides probably the most empathy and heart to the contestants when Howie and I perhaps start ripping them too much. And Howie in a comedic way, perhaps me in a slightly more - well, I'll say brutal way in the sense of being quite realistic about their chances of progressing," he added.

"I think Sharon's there as a kind of... We see her as the mother hen figure you know."

Mandel said he's excited for viewers to see America's Got Talent's upcoming crop of contestants and thinks the judges have done a good job assembling hopefuls to choose from.

"There is an indiscernible factor or wow factor. It's just like, 'I don't know what you did. I have never seen anything like that before, and it's just amazing.' And there's a charisma and there's an energy and there's just a fascination. You can't take your eyes off of somebody," he told reporters.

"That kind of tells you that this is worth seeing at least again. Then ultimately America will vote and decide how much they want to see that person."

America's Got Talent's fifth season will premiere over the course of two nights on Tuesday, June 1 at 8PM ET/PT and Wednesday, June 2 at 9PM ET/PT.

(Photo credit NBC)


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