America’s Got Talent

“America’s Got Talent” is a reality competition series that premiered on NBC in June 2006. The talent show features singers, dancers, magicians, comedians and other performers competing for $1 million prize and chance to headline a Las Vegas show. The series was co-created by Simon Cowell, who later launched a U.K. version titled “Britain’s Got Talent.”

A celebrity judging panel decides which acts will advance to the next round and which acts will be eliminated. The original judges were Piers Morgan, David Hasselhoff and Brandy. Sharon Osbourne replaced Brandy in Season 2, and then Howie Mandel replaced Hasselhoff in Season 5. Season 12 had Howard Stern replacing Morgan, while Mel B replaced Osbourne, and Heidi Klum joined as a fourth judge in Season 8. Cowell then replaced Stern for Season 11.

There have also been a number of famous guest judges over the years. Some of the celebrities who’ve popped in for a night to help judge the competition have included Neil Patrick Harris, Michael Bublé, Marlon Wayans, Ne-Yo, Reba McEntire, George Lopez and Louis Tomlinson.

In addition to the famous judges, the show has had a number of different celebrity hosts over the years. Regis Philbin hosted the show’s first season, while Jerry Springer took over for Seasons 2 and 3. Nick Cannon then stepped in to host the show for eight seasons before quitting in February 2017 after NBC threatened to fire him for a racial joke he made in one of his comedy specials. Tyra Banks is set to replace Cannon for Season 12, which will premiere on May 30, 2017.

11-year-old singer Bianca Ryan won the first season, while signing ventriloquist Terry Fator took home the grand prize in Season 2. Opera singer Neal E. Boyd was named winner for Season 3 and country music singer Kevin Skinner won Season 4. Additional winners included singer Michael Grimm (Season 5), singer Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. (Season 6), dog trick act Olate Dogs (Season 7), martial arts dancer/mime Kenichi Ebina (Season 8), magician Mat Franco (Season 9), ventriloquist Paul Zerdin (Season 10) and 12-year-old singer-songwriter Grace VanderWaal.

The show’s selection process begins with auditions for producers held in various cities across the United States. The acts that pass the producers’ round are then invited to perform on the show in front of the judges and a live audience. Each judge has a buzzer, and can express their disapproval at any time during an act by pressing it and lighting up an “X” on their panel. If a performer receives an X from every judge, they must stop performing and are immediately eliminated. The majority of the judges must vote yes on act in order for that act to advance to the next round.

Season 9 featured the introduction of the “Golden Buzzer,” which could be used once per season by each judge to save an act from being eliminated regardless of how the other judges voted. In Season 10, any act that received a golden buzzer would automatically advance to the live show.

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