After spending the better part of a day behind the scenes and on the set of “America’s Got Talent,” something became painfully obvious. Although the ratings stand as pretty sufficient evidence, this show … really is good.
But, not for the reasons you might think. Here are five things you might not know about “America’s Got Talent,” and collectively, they go a long way in making “AGT” a really solid show.
The Hoff drinks ‘hoffee’Just before our interview began, David Hasselhoff asked his publicist for a cup of “hoffee.” There was a moment of horror, then the publicist appeared with a mug that read “want some Hoffee?” The Hoff puns continued, even on the live broadcast, and for the most part, they were hoffully funny.
But that’s not why they’re getting ink now. No, all this Hoff business goes a long way in making the show personal. The judges on these types of shows need to have a role beyond that of talking head in order to seem genuine and invested in the outcome. Their influence needs to be evident throughout, and little things like the Hoffisms go a long way.
It’s a family affairHoff’s dad comes to the live taping of “AGT” every week, and Hoff gets out from behind the judge’s table to chat with him during the commercial breaks. Nick Cannon’s mom was present at the taping I attended. The television audience might not see this, but having mom or dad on set makes a difference, if for no other reason that it keeps their kids human. And it’s just sweet.
Cannon as host does make senseHis delivery can be stiff, he has a tendency to hold the microphone as if he fears it could squirm right out of his hand, but during the live taping, it became clear that Cannon’s a good choice to be host. He keeps the trains running on time — he hits his cues, and he’s not going to get so wrapped up in his dialogue that he blows through commercial breaks. And, he’s great with the kid contestants; he’s at his best with the worst. This makes the judging less awkward when bad news is being delivered, and put the kids at ease, which keeps them protected.
Piers gets it right, and that makes Sharon better
When Piers Morgan delivers criticism, there are approximately 1.5 seconds that pass before the audience stars to boo him. Stop, audience! He is always right. And unlike his “American Idol” mean guy counterpart Simon Cowell, Piers really does always seem to get it right. That also makes Sharon Osbourne better — she’s a mom, and it shows. Sometimes she’s not tough enough, but between the two of them, the right balance is struck.
It’s better than ‘American Idol’Maybe this isn’t news to everyone, but it took me being there to realize, on the whole, this show is better than “American Idol.” Not because it branches beyond singing. In fact, the “talents” involved have little to do with it. With “AGT,” there’s simply more latitude.
Contestants are allowed to be nervous, screw up a performance slightly, start off pitchy, and then find a groove. In other words, by the time the fans start voting, the contestants have presented a pretty authentic version of themselves to America. A rare thing, even in so-called reality shows.