America’s Got Talent season 15 is underway, and the show is gearing up to begin its 2020 live shows. Before the quarterfinals start, however, ABC is airing a “15th Anniversary Special” episode on August 4. The live shows of America’s Got Talent season 15 begin on August 11, marking the start of the quarterfinals.
The official synopsis for the first quarterfinals episode teases, “Live at Universal Studios Hollywood, 11 performers compete for America’s vote and a $1 million prize as judging is turned over to the viewing audience, with judges Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Sofia Vergara and host Terry Crews.”
Here’s what you need to know about how the live shows will work this season:
The Live Shows Will Not Have an In-Person Audience Due to COVID-19
With the coronavirus pandemic ongoing in the United States, America’s Got Talent looks a little different this year due to production shifts in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Cowell said, “I don’t think we’re gonna be at the Dolby Theatre with 3,000 people. I think that’s not gonna happen this year. Whatever we need to do, we will get to the end of the finals this year. There will be a winner.” According to USA Today, they are hoping to have as many acts as possible perform in front of the judges, supported by a much smaller production crew; in place of a live audience, they are considering a virtual audience element.
Executive producer Sam Donnelly told USA Today, “I think it’s going to be mostly live, maybe a couple pre-taped (performances). We have some larger groups and, with rules and regulations, they might be remote.”
Of the significance of finding a way to keep the show going, NBC’s executive vice president of alternative programming Jenny Groom said, “We wanted to figure out how can we do this in a safe manner and for fans to feel like they still get the show they love. We also talked a lot about how this is this show we feel America needs right now. They need to feel like they can escape.”
44 Acts Made it Into the Season 15 Quarterfinals Live Shows
At the end of the Judge Cuts episode, 44 spots were filled by acts that the judges chose to send through to the live shows. In past seasons, only 36 acts advanced from judge cuts to the quarterfinals.
Executive producer Jason Raff told People that this change was made as a result of the show’s altered production schedule and format, which resulted in only one condensed Judge Cut round airing for season 15. Raff said, “Because we’re being forced because of COVID to do less with the middle round, we felt that it would better to put more people through into the live shows that America could choose. We wanted to try and do as much as possible to give everybody as much of a chance as possible.” The viewers at home will get to vote each week for who they want to stay in the competition, keeping them actively involved in the season in light of necessary production changes.
For the complete list of acts who made it into the quarterfinals, click here.
The quarterfinals will be the first time the season’s 5 golden buzzer recipients perform again for the judges; their golden buzzer wins enabled them to bypass the judge cuts round. Those acts are Roberta Battaglia, Voices of Our City Choir, WAFFLE Crew, Cristina Rae, and Brandon Leake.
New episodes of America’s Got Talent season 15 air on Tuesday nights at 8/7c on NBC.