It was a close one, but Howie Mandel will get to judge another season on AMERICA’S GOT TALENT.
Surprised? Me too.
While I’ve always been a big fan of the chrome-topped comic, he was, well…dwarfed last year by the arrival of Howard Stern, and with the AGT ship sinking so fast, I’m surprised he wanted anything to do with it.
I’m hearing that NBC didn’t formally exercise its option on the guy (who, by the way, has other deals in place at the network) until Monday. By then, a source tells me, “they couldn’t find anyone else.”
The network was also holding back on Howie, I’m told, until they figured out who was going to replace Sharon Osbourne — who famously quit the show last summer after a nuclear blowup with NBC execs.
The final list is now down to three names. I hope to be able to confirm who the final judge(s) will be in the next few days.
Until then, some more insight from my story in The New York Post:
Mandel will once again work alongside Howard Stern, who confirmed his return in December.
“I’m going to re-judge for my fourth year,” he said in an interview with Access Hollywood.
“I phoned Howard, and I said I’m coming back, and he said ‘who is this?’.”
Mandel’s pickup comes less than three weeks before “Talent” is scheduled to tape its first live show in New Orleans.
The top rated summer show since 2006, “Talent” lost almost 25 percent of its audience last year when Stern was added and production moved to Newark.
The network blamed much of the decline on scheduling changes caused by the Olympics.
Season eight is again expected to originate from The New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
It had been speculated that NBC and creator Simon Cowell would use Osbourne’s departure as an opportunity rebuild the entire judging panel and revitalize the aging show.
In 2011, Cowell, told The Post that he hoped to add a fourth judge to the panel — “somebody younger. A girl. Someone who will not be afraid of Sharon [Osbourne] and Howard and fight for a different type of act than they would.”
While further additions to the judging table seem unlikely, Stern said in December he would like to work with Oprah, Cher or Rosie O’Donnell.
Will you watch the new season of AMERICA’S GOT TALENT? Let us know in the comments section below.
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