America’s Got Talent season 15 is underway, but things look a little different this year. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, production was altered and eventually halted to maintain social distance and prevent the spread of COVID-19 as effectively as possible. One decision they made while filming AGT was to eliminate the presence of an audience for the remainder of their pre-taped episodes.
Beginning with tonight’s June 30 episode, viewers watching the show from home should note that there will be no audience present behind the judges. While it is a necessary change (large audiences gathered together in close quarters is definitely not compliant with current CDC guidelines), it will no doubt change the show’s dynamic and energy. It will be interesting to see what production did in order to compensate for the absence of an audience in moments that really depend upon their applause and reactions, such as the golden buzzer.
‘AGT’ Season 15 Can Continue Thanks to Social Distance Efforts & Virtual Performances
In addition to removing the audience element from the remaining audition episodes, Gold Derby reports that both the acts and judges were kept socially distant and additional safety measures were put in place through the judges cuts episodes. The last pre-taped episode will air in August, which means the show will have to pivot its season once again for the live shows.
In an interview with People, judge Simon Cowell revealed that the show will go on once the pre-taped episodes have concluded. He said, “We’ve worked out about three different scenarios for how we can shoot the live shows with or without an audience, or a limited audience. And each one of them creatively works. The most important thing is that we have to ensure that since people have auditioned, that they do get the chance safely to be able to compete as they normally do, and get that chance to win a million dollars, or at least appear in the final.”
They also added a virtual audition component to this season, to see and consider acts that were not able to audition in-person before production shut down in March. Those acts will air in a remotely-produced episode, and the acts that make it through will return as semifinalists.
Heidi Klum Missed Several Days of Filming Due to Illness
Another change fans will notice in tonight’s episode is judge Heidi Klum’s continued absence. In March, while they were still filming the show, Heidi Klum got sick and production pulled her from filming so she could recover at home. At the time, the fear was that she might be sick with coronavirus; however, when she was finally able to get a test, the results came back negative.
According to Gold Derby, Klum was absent for the rest of the auditions but was able to return in time for the judges’ cuts round of the competition. Klum’s first episode back will air on July 28, when the first of the season’s 3 judges’ cuts episodes airs.
New episodes of America’s Got Talent season 15 air on Tuesday nights at 8/7c on NBC.