America’s Got Talent is the first non-scripted show to resume production amid the global pandemic. The show resumed production last week in Los Angeles and made several changes.
According to Deadline, instead of filming the Judge Cuts round inside Universal Studios, they shot in Simi Valley on an outdoor movie set that will resemble the look of a drive-in theatre. Instead of the usual 72 acts advancing to Judge Cuts round, only 60 will make it through.
Judges Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara, and Simon Cowell along with host Terry Crews all arrived in separate cars and wore masks when they were not on camera. NBC also cut the number of Judge Cuts episodes from four to one, airing on July 28. Due to the number of Judge Cuts episodes being reduced, NBC will air a best of auditions special on July 21 and a 15th anniversary special on August 4.
“Safety was of course our number one priority as we were heading back into production. Utilizing the state and local guidelines, as well as those set forth by unions and guilds, we set out to create one of the safest environments for television production,” show producers Sam Donnelly and Jason Raff told Deadline. “We’d have to say that the end result was a set that felt even safer than shopping in a grocery store, and it was evident that our overall AGT family was very thankful to be able to return to work.”
Cowell, who also serves as the show’s executive producer, said the safety of the crew was the number one priority once filming resumed.
“If we thought anyone was at risk, we wouldn’t film,” he said. “So as long as you know that people are safe, fortunately everyone who was on the lot was tested, will be tested and are continually tested. Once you know you’ve got that part and it works then the second part is putting on the show.”
Live shows are scheduled to begin on August 11 and Cowell recently confirmed the live rounds will not take place at the Dolby Theatre this year. 40 acts will advance to the live shows, which will take place over four weeks. That’s up from the 36 acts over three weeks from the past few seasons.
The venue for the live shows is still up in the air, with reports saying NBC is looking at several potential options and whether they can have an audience, either in person or virtually.
Cowell is excited for the changes and hopes they will become permanent moving forward.
“I personally now would stick to this new way we’ve done it not just for the present but for the future,” he said. “I think it is a better show this year than it has been on previous years.”
What do you think of the future of America’s Got Talent for the rest of Season 15? Let me know in the comments below!
America’s Got Talent airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC.