America’s Got Talent
NBC’s top-rated series “America’s Got Talent” returns with some big news: “Got Talent” creator and executive producer Simon Cowell joins the judges panel alongside Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel. Nick Cannon is back as host, and the series returns to Los Angeles.
With the search open to acts of all ages and talents, “America’s Got Talent” has brought the variety format back to the forefront of American culture by showcasing unique performers from across the country. The series is a true celebration of creativity and talent, featuring a colorful array of singers, dancers, comedians, contortionists, impressionists, jugglers, magicians, ventriloquists and hopeful stars, all vying to win America’s hearts and the $1 million prize.
In 2014, for the first time, America chose a magician as their winner with Rhode Island native Mat Franco, who went on to headline the “America’s Got Talent Live” stage show, as well as the “Magic Reinvented Nightly” stage show – both held in Las Vegas. Franco also starred in the “Mat Franco’s Got Magic” special that aired on NBC and featured appearances by Neil Patrick Harris, Heidi Klum, Rob Gronkowski, Jason Mraz, Penn & Teller and others.
Past “AGT” highlights include Season 7 winner Olate Dogs in 2012. Led by Richard Olate and his son Nicholas, this high-energy, fast-paced dog act was an audience favorite filled with unbelievable pet tricks. In 2011, sentimental favorite and West Virginia native Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. beat out thousands of acts to take home the coveted $1 million grand prize. Prior to that, Mississippi-born soul singer Michael Grimm was crowned the winner of a spectacular Season 5, which also brought national attention to 10-year-old classical singer and phenom Jackie Evancho, who has gone on to release several best-selling albums. In that same season, the show also discovered Lindsey Stirling, a hip-hop violinist. She has since gone on to release two albums, with her second album, “Shatter Me, ” selling 56,000 copies in its first week and reaching the No. 2 position on the Billboard 200. The second season of “America’s Got Talent” introduced audiences to the incredibly talented Terry Fator, a ventriloquist, singer and comedian from Dallas who has had a headlining show in Las Vegas since 2007 and currently performs at the Mirage Hotel.