America's Got Talent

America's Got Talent (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

America's Got Talent (also known as AGT) is an American reality television series on the NBC television network, and part of the global British Got Talent franchise. It is a talent show that features singers, dancers, magicians, comedians, and other performers of all ages competing for the advertised top prize of one million dollars. The show debuted in June 2006 for the summer television season. From season three onwards, the prize includes the one million dollars, payable in a financial annuity over 40 years (or the present cash value of such annuity), and a show as the headliner on the Las Vegas Strip.

Among its significant features were that it gave an opportunity to talented amateurs or unknown performers, with the results decided by an audience vote. The format is a popular one and has often been reworked for television in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The current incarnation was created by Simon Cowell, and was originally due to be a 2005 British series called Paul O'Grady's Got Talent but was postponed due to O'Grady's acrimonious split with broadcaster ITV (later launching as Britain's Got Talent). As such, the American version became the first full series of the franchise. Despite Cowell's involvement in the show's production, his contract with Fox for his involvement with American Idol prevented him from being involved in the show as a judge. After leaving Idol however, Cowell began to produce and judge a version of The X Factor for Fox in 2011.

Selection process

Producers' auditions

The general selection process of the show begins with separate producers' auditions held in various cities across the United States, some which host only the producers' auditions, and some which also host judges' auditions held in theaters. This round is held several months before the judges' audition. Acts that have made it through the producers' audition will then audition in front of the judges and a live audience.

Judges' auditions

Following the producers' auditions, acts audition in front of three celebrity judges. These auditions are held in theaters in various cities nationally and are later televised. The judges may terminate an act's performance early by pressing their red buzzer, which lights up their corresponding X above the stage. If an act receives three X's, they must stop their performance. Since season three, large audiences have also been a factor in the judging process, as their reaction to an act's performance may swing or influence a judge's vote. If an act receives two or more "yes" votes, they advance to the next round of competition. However, in the majority of seasons, several acts do not perform in the second round and are immediately sent home by the judges without a second performance.

Las Vegas Week

Since season two, Las Vegas Week has been an intermediary televised taped round between the auditions and the live shows. This round takes place in a notable venue on the Las Vegas Strip. Names for this round in previous seasons has included "Las Vegas Callbacks" and "Vegas Verdicts". The Las Vegas round generally consists of acts performing a second time for the judges (with the exception of season 4), who then pick select acts to move on the live shows. An act eliminated in Las Vegas Week is not completely excluded from the live show competition, as several seasons have featured contestants being brought back from this round as "wild card" acts.

Prior to the inclusion of this round, the judges would have a list containing a number of acts which advanced past the auditions during each live show. The judges would then pick ten acts from that group each week, leaving several acts without the chance to perform.

YouTube auditions

Since season five, acts who do not attend live auditions may instead submit a taped audition online via YouTube. Acts from the online auditions are then selected to compete in front of the judges and a live audience during the "live shows" part of the season, prior to the semi-finals. The most successful of the YouTube auditions was Jackie Evancho, who went on to place second in season five.

Before the inclusion of this round, the show had a separate audition episode in seasons three and four for contestants who posted videos on MySpace.

Live shows

During the live shows, a group of acts ranging from only a Top 20 (season 2), to as many as 48 (or more"?counting the YouTube acts), compete for viewers' and judges' votes. In the first season, the judges could not end an act's performance, but could either "check" or "X" the performance during their critique. Since season two, judges have been able to end an act's performance early, and the "check" was removed. Acts generally each perform in a first live round consisting of a series of quarterfinals. In seasons with YouTube auditions, the round of live judging of YouTube finalists takes place then, as part of these quarterfinals. Then, there may be additional shows for "Wild Card" acts"?acts that one or more of the judges select to be given one more chance for audience vote despite previous elimination. From these shows, the existing group is narrowed through votes by the public and/or the judges (depending on the season). Acts then move on to a semifinal round, and even further rounds (such as a "Top 8" or a "Top 10", depending on the season) through a series of weekly shows, which trim the number of acts down each time based on a public vote. In the majority of seasons, judges have had no vote from the semifinals on. All these rounds culminate in a live final, which has consisted of anywhere from four to ten acts throughout the seasons. The act with the most votes is declared the winner, given $1 million, and, since season three, a chance to headline a show on the Las Vegas Strip.

During seasons one through six, the live shows were filmed at CBS Television City in Los Angeles. Beginning with season seven, the live shows have been held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

Since season 5, the show has also made the winner the headline act of a national tour with runners up following the final show, stopping in 25 cities.

Season summary

Season Start Finish Winner Runner(s)-Up Creative director Host Judging panel
1 June 21, 2006 August 17, 2006 Bianca Ryan All That
The Millers
Brian Friedman Regis Philbin David Hasselhoff
Piers Morgan
Brandy Norwood
2 June 5, 2007 August 21, 2007 Terry Fator Cas Haley Jerry Springer David Hasselhoff
Piers Morgan
Sharon Osbourne
3 June 17, 2008 October 1, 2008 Neal E. Boyd Eli Mattson
4 June 23, 2009 September 16, 2009 Kevin Skinner Barbara Padilla Nick Cannon
5 June 1, 2010 September 15, 2010 Michael Grimm Jackie Evancho Piers Morgan
Sharon Osbourne
Howie Mandel
6 May 31, 2011 September 14, 2011 Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. Silhouettes
7 May 14, 2012 September 13, 2012 Olate Dogs Tom Cotter Sharon Osbourne
Howie Mandel
Howard Stern

Season synopses

Season 1 (2006)

Main article: America's Got Talent (season 1)
In May 2006, NBC announced the new show. The audition tour took place in June. Auditions were held in the following locations: Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Atlanta. Some early ads for the show implied that the winning act would also headline a show at a casino, possibly in Las Vegas; however, this was replaced with $1,000,000 due to concerns of minors playing in Las Vegas, should one become a champion. More than 12 million viewers watched the season premiere (which is more than American Idol got during its premiere back in 2002). The two-hour broadcast was the night's most-watched program on U.S. television and the highest-rated among viewers aged 18 to 49 (the prime-time audience that matters most to advertisers), Nielsen Media Research reported. On the season finale, there was an unaired segment that was scheduled to appear after Aly & AJ. The segment featured Tom Green dressing in a parrot costume, and squawking with a live parrot, to communicate telepathically. Green then proceeded to fly up above the audience, shooting confetti streamers out of his costume onto the crowd below.

In season one, the show was hosted by Regis Philbin and judged by actor David Hasselhoff, singer Brandy Norwood, and journalist Piers Morgan.

The winner of the season was 11-year old singer Bianca Ryan, and the runners-up were clogging group All That, and musical group The Millers.

Season 2 (2007)

Main article: America's Got Talent (season 2)
After initially announcing in June 2006 that season two would premiere in January 2007 and would air at 8 PM on Sunday nights, with no separate results show, the network changed that, pushing the show back to the summer, where the first season had great success. This move kept the show out of direct competition with American Idol, which has a similar premise and is more popular. In AGT's place, another reality-based talent show, Grease: You're The One That I Want, began airing on Sunday nights in the same timeslot on NBC beginning in January. In March 2007, NBC announced that Philbin would not return as host of the show, and that Jerry Springer would succeed him as host, with Sharon Osbourne (formerly a judge on Cowell's UK show The X Factor) succeeding Brandy as a judge.

Season two had no results show; replaced by results on the performance show night instead. In addition, each Tuesday broadcast was repeated (along with The Singing Bee episode that followed the 90-minute editions of AGT) by NBC the following Saturday.

The season finale was shown Tuesday, August 21, 2007, with the winner being Terry Fator, a singing impressionist ventriloquist. The runner-up was singer Cas Haley.

Season 3 (2008)

NBC announced in August 2007 that the network had renewed the show for a third season. It premiered on June 17, 2008. Auditions took place in Charlotte, Nashville, Orlando, New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago from January to April. A televised MySpace audition also took place. Sharon Osbourne, Piers Morgan and David Hasselhoff returned as judges. Jerry Springer also returned as host.

Season three differed from the previous two in many ways. Auditions were held in well-known theaters across the nation, and a new title card was introduced, featuring the American flag as background. The X's match the ones on Britain's Got Talent as does the judges table. Like the previous season, the Las Vegas callbacks continued, but there were 40 acts selected to compete in the live rounds, instead of 20. This season also contained several results episodes, but not on a regular basis.

The show took a hiatus for two and a half weeks for the 2008 Summer Olympics, but returned with the live rounds on August 26, 2008.

Neal E. Boyd, an opera singer, was named the winner on October 1, 2008.

Season 4 (2009)

Season four premiered on Tuesday, June 23. Season four is the first to be broadcast in high definition. Auditions for this season were held in more than nine major cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, Atlanta, Miami, Tacoma, Boston and Houston. Los Angeles Auditions kicked off the tour January 29"31 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, followed by Atlanta Auditions February 7"8. New York and Miami Auditions were held during March. Tacoma Auditions were held April 25 and 26. In addition to live auditions and the ability to send in a home audition tape, season four offered the opportunity for acts to upload their video direct at with their registration. This year's host is Nick Cannon, who replaced Jerry Springer. Springer said that he could not host due to other commitments. All judges from season three returned for this season.

The audition process in season four is the same as the previous season, but the 'Las Vegas Callbacks' was renamed 'Vegas Verdicts'. This was the first season since season one where results episodes last one hour on a regular basis. The title card this year features bands of the American flag and stars waving around the America's Got Talent logo.

At the end of Las Vegas week, Simon Cowell, the show's executive producer, called the judges by phone while they were flying back to Los Angeles, stating that he was unhappy with some of the eliminations the judges made. Cowell stated that this season had a lot of talent and presented the judges with eight acts he thought America should see again. As a result, two wild card acts performed each week along with the ten already scheduled to perform, expanding the Top 40 to the Top 48.

On September 16, 2009, country music singer Kevin Skinner was named the season's winner. The grand prize was one million dollars and a 10-week headline show at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

Season 5 (2010)

For season five, the network had considered moving the show to the fall, after rival series So You Think You Can Dance transferred from the summer to fall season in 2009. However, NBC ultimately decided to keep Talent a summer show, which was also the fate of rival Dance.

Open auditions were held in the winter to early spring of 2010 in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City, Orlando, and Portland. Non-televised producers' auditions were also held in Atlanta and Philadelphia. For the first time, online auditions were also held via YouTube.

For the 2010 season, David Hasselhoff left to host a new television show, and was replaced by comedian and TV host Howie Mandel. This made Piers Morgan the only original judge left in the show. The judging panel now consisted of two British judges and a Canadian one.

The show premiered Tuesday, June 1 at 8PM ET. Afterward, Talent resumed the same time slot as the previous season.

On September 15, 2010, singer Michael Grimm was named the winner. He won a $1,000,000 prize and a chance to perform at the Caesars Palace Casino and Resort on the Las Vegas Strip, as well as headline the 25-city America's Got Talent Live Tour along with Jackie Evancho, Fighting Gravity, Prince Poppycock, and the other top ten finalists.

Season 6 (2011)

Season six premiered on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 for a two-hour special. Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne continued as judges after taking jobs on Piers Morgan Tonight and The Talk, respectively. On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on July 27, 2010, Morgan officially stated that he has signed a three year contract to stay on Talent. In addition, Howie Mandel returned as a judge, and Nick Cannon returned as host.

The show held televised auditions in Los Angeles, New York, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Seattle, and Houston. Non-televised producers' auditions were also held in Denver and Chicago. Previews of auditions were shown during NBC's The Voice premiere on April 26, 2011. Online auditions via YouTube were also held for the second time in the show's run, beginning on May 4, 2011. Finalists for this audition circuit competed live on August 9.

Due to the live shows of The Voice in June, AGT was aired one hour earlier than its usual Tuesday timeslot, at 8/7c. The show resumed its regular 9/8c timeslot on Tuesdays at the start of the live shows on July 12, 2011. AGT retained its regular Wednesday 9/8c timeslot throughout the season.

On Wednesday, September 14, 2011, Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr., a Frank Sinatra style singer, was named the winner. Dance group Silhouettes was runner-up. He went on to headline at Caesars Palace Casino and Resort along with the other final four finalists as well as other fan favorites such as Anna Graceman and Landon Swank.

Season 7 (2012)

On August 12, 2011, NBC confirmed that it was renewing America's Got Talent for a seventh season, which premiered on May 14, 2012.

The first round of auditions, which are judged by producers were held in New York, Washington, D.C., Tampa, Florida, Charlotte, North Carolina, Austin, Texas, Anaheim, California, St. Louis, Missouri, and San Francisco, California from October 2011 to February 2012. The show began its live theater performances in Newark, New Jersey's NJPAC on February 27.

Piers Morgan did not return as a judge for season seven, due to his work hosting CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight, and he was replaced by Howard Stern. Since Stern hosts his SiriusXM radio show in New York City, the live rounds of the show were moved to nearby Newark, New Jersey. Simon Cowell, the show's executive producer, announced in December 2011 that the show would be receiving a "top-to-bottom makeover", confirming that there would be new graphics, lighting, theme music, show intro, logo, and a larger live audience at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

On July 2, 2012, at the first live performance show of the season, their new location and stage were unveiled in a special two-and-a-half-hour live special. A new set was also unveiled with a revised judges' desk, and a refreshed design of the "X".

On August 6, 2012, Sharon Osbourne announced that she would leave America's Got Talent after the current season, in response to allegations that her son Jack Osbourne was discriminated against by the producers of the upcoming NBC program Stars Earn Stripes.

On September 13, 2012, Olate Dogs were announced the winners of the season that night, the show's first completely non-singing act to win the competition. Subsequently, Tom Cotter finished as the runner-up, and is thus the show's highest-finishing stand-up comedian.

Season 8 (2013)

The new season was announced in a promotional video shown during a commercial break for season seven's second live show. Sharon Osbourne initially stated that she will not return for the season, but later said that she was staying with the show "for now." Osbourne confirmed she would be leaving the show after a feud with NBC on August 6, 2012. It has been reported that producer Simon Cowell wants Carmen Electra to replace former judge Osbourne. Howard Stern wants Rosie O'Donnell to take Osbourne's seat. The networks fully expect Howard Stern, Howie Mandel and Nick Cannon to return.

As of November 29, 2012, Cannon has officially signed on with the network to host Talent once again.

The show's producers are looking to revamp the show due to sinking ratings in season 7 and a possible fourth judge may be added as Cowell planned that last year and with the success in ratings with the addition of a fourth judge on his other show, Britain's Got Talent.

An Audition Cities poll for season eight was announced on July 11, 2012. The first batch of Audition Cities were announced and are Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland (OR), New Orleans, Birmingham, Memphis, Nashville, Savannah, Raleigh, Norfolk, San Antonio, New York, Columbus, and Chicago. This season will be the season where the auditions travel to more cities than ever before.

On December 3, 2012, Howard Stern announced on his radio show that he would be returning for season 8.

America's Got Talent will once again be airing it's live shows from New York. It is expected that the New Jersey Performing Arts Center will be the venue again.

America's Got Talent Live

America's Got Talent Live is a show on the Las Vegas Strip that features the winner of each season of Talent as the main performance.

In 2009, America's Got Talent Live appeared on the Las Vegas Strip appearing Wednesday through Sunday at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, in a limited 10-week run starting in October, 2009 through January of the next year. It featured the final ten acts which made it to the season four finale. Former host of the series, Jerry Springer, emceed, commuting weekly between Stamford, Connecticut tapings of his self-named show and Las Vegas.

In 2010, on the first live show of season five, the winner headlined America's Got Talent Live from Caesars Palace Casino and Resort on the Las Vegas Strip, which was part of a 25-city tour that featured the season's finalists. Jerry Springer returned as both host of the tour and the headline show.

Overall ratings summary

Since the show began, its ratings have been very high, ranging from 9 million viewers to as many as 16 million viewers, generally averaging around 12 million viewers. The show has also ranked high in the 18-49 demographic, usually rating anywhere from as low as 2.0 to as high as 4.6 throughout its run. Average ratings have been around 3.0-3.9 for most seasons. Audition shows and performance shows rate higher on average than results shows.

Although the show's ratings have been high, NBC has chosen not to place the show as a competitor in the fall or spring seasons for various reasons. A brief run by the show in the fall in 2008, which was due to NBC's coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics, proved to be underwhelming, with the series averaging only around 10 million viewers, and the finale down significantly from the previous year. During the first weeks of the fall season in 2009, however, a results show of America's Got Talent performed well against the season premiere of So You Think You Can Dance and the highly-promoted world premiere of Glee, posting 9.7 million viewers, compared to only 6.5 million viewers for So You Think You Can Dance and 7.1 million viewers for Glee. However, So You Think You Can Dance delivered poorly in the fall, which was likely a factor in NBC's decision to keep America's Got Talent in the summer.

The highest rated season in overall viewers to date is season four. The most-watched episode has been the finale of season five, with 16.41 million viewers. The series premiere, and an episode featuring the first part of Las Vegas Week in season six, have each tied for highest rating among adults 18"49, both having a 4.6 rating.

The show is rated TV-PG.

Season Timeslot (EDT) Season premiere Premiere
(in millions)
Season finale Finale
(in millions)
TV season Rank Season
(in millions)
1 Wednesday 8:00 P.M.
Thursday 9:00 P.M. (Results)
June 21, 2006 12.41 August 17, 2006 12.05 2006 #1 10.00
2 Tuesday 8:00 P.M. June 5, 2007 12.93 August 21, 2007 13.87 2007 #1 12.00
3 Tuesday 8:00 P.M. June 17, 2008 12.80 October 1, 2008 12.55 2008 #1 11.38
4 Tuesday 9:00 P.M.
Wednesday 9:00 P.M.
June 23, 2009 11.30 September 16, 2009 15.53 2009 #1 11.91
5 Tuesday 9:00 P.M.
Wednesday 9:00 P.M.
June 1, 2010 12.35 September 15, 2010 16.41 2010 #1 11.02
6 Tuesday 8:00 P.M. (May 31-July 5)
Tuesday 9:00 P.M. (after July 5)
Wednesday 9:00 P.M.
May 31, 2011 15.28 September 14, 2011 14.37 2011 #1 11.82
7 Monday 8:00 P.M. and Tuesday 9:00 P.M. (May 14-July 3)
Tuesday 8:00 P.M. and Wednesday 9:00 P.M. (after July 3)
May 14, 2012 10.48 September 13, 2012 10.59 2012 10.02

Awards and nominations

Year Presenter Award Result
2011 37th People's Choice Awards Favorite Competition Show
2011 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Reality Show
63rd Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Hairstyling For A Multi-Camera Series Or Special
2012 2012 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Reality Show
2012 Teen Choice Awards Summer TV Show
Male Personality: Nick Cannon, America's Got Talent

Top-selling albums by former contestants

Sales numbers are American sales only.

RIAA-certified albums
Rank Former contestant
total sales
Debut album Second album Third album Fourth album Fifth album
1 Jackie Evancho
(season 5, runner-up)
Prelude to a Dream
(November 15, 2009)

Peak: #121
O Holy Night
(November 16, 2010)
SYCO/Columbia Records

Peak: #2
Dream With Me
(June 14, 2011)
Sony Records

Peak: #2
Heavenly Christmas
(November 1, 2011)
Sony Records

Peak: #11
Songs from the Silver Screen
(October 2, 2012)
Sony Records

Peak: #7
Non-certified albums
Rank Former contestant Total sales Albums
2 Bianca Ryan
(season 1 winner)

  • Bianca Ryan (2006) #57
  • Christmas Everyday (2007) did not chart
  • The True Meaning of Christmas (2009) did not chart
3 Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr.
(season 6 winner)

  • That's Life (2011) #34
4 Cas Haley
(season 2 runner-up)

  • Cas Haley (2008) #8
  • Connection (2010) did not chart
5 Michael Grimm
(season 5 winner)

  • Michael Grimm (2011) #13
6 Donald Braswell II
(season 3, 4th place)

  • New Chapter (2007) did not chart
  • We Fall and We Rise Again (2010) did not chart
  • Unchained (2011) did not chart
7 Neal E. Boyd
(season 3 winner)

  • My American Dream (2009) #195

Contestants who have competed on other talent shows

Many acts which have competed on America's Got Talent, but were ultimately eliminated before the final round, have either previously competed on or went on to compete in a number of other talent shows, most notably American Idol and America's Best Dance Crew.

  • Jabbawockeez from season two were the season one champions of America's Best Dance Crew
  • Extreme Dance FX, from season three competed on season five of America's Best Dance Crew as the crew Blended Projekt.
  • Members of the dance crew SQ Entertainment from season three and season four were runner-ups of the first season of America's Best Dance Crew.
  • BreakSk8 from season four finished in fourth place on America's Best Dance Crew season one.
  • FootworKINGz, from season four competed on season six of America's Best Dance Crew.
  • Rated Next Generation (RNG), from season five finished in the Top Four on season seven of America's Best Dance Crew.
  • Strikers All-Stars, from season five, finished in the Top Four on season three of America's Best Dance Crew.
  • 787 Crew, from season seven competed on season six of America's Best Dance Crew.

  • Alice Tan Ridley from season five won the pilot episode of 30 Seconds to Fame on Fox.
  • Dani Shay from season six appeared on The Glee Project on Oxygen.
  • Horse from season seven competed on season 4 of American Ninja Warrior.

See also

  • Got Talent
  • The X Factor

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