America’s Got Talent season 15 quarterfinals begin live tonight, August 11. Viewers may be surprised when they see that judge and executive producer Simon Cowell is missing from the first two nights of live shows. Over the weekend, Cowell had a bike accident at home and broke his back. He is not on AGT tonight or tomorrow because he is in the hospital recovering from surgery.
The August 11 episode’s description teases, “Live from Universal Studios Hollywood, eleven performers compete for America’s vote and a $1 Million Dollar prize as judging is turned over to the viewing audience. Creator and executive producer, Simon Cowell, serves as judge along with Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Sofia Vergara. Hosted by Terry Crews.” Although the episode description says Cowell will be present, fans should not expect to see him on the judges’ panel for at least the first week of live shows.
Cowell, in seemingly good spirits, shared the news of his accident on social media, writing, “Some good advice… If you buy an electric trail bike, read the manual before you ride it for the first time. I have broken part of my back. Thank you to everyone for your kind messages. And a massive thank you to all the nurses and doctors. Some of the nicest people I have ever met. Stay safe everyone. Simon.”
Cowell Will Hopefully ‘Be Able to Return Before the End of the Season’
While right now it seems like AGT has only filled Cowell’s place as a judge for the first week of quarterfinals, airing August 11 and 12, when and if he returns to the show this season depends on his recovery. A source close to Cowell informed Heavy via email that “It’s very much a case of taking it day by day but everyone is optimistic and hopeful for him to be able [to] return before the end of the season.”
No matter how long Cowell is absent from America’s Got Talent, he is sure to be missed by his fellow judges. After news of his injury spread, judge Heidi Klum shared a photo from the AGT outdoor set, with the judges’ chairs socially distanced in their judges’ chairs, and Cowell’s seat left empty. She wrote, “Wishing you a speedy recovery @simoncowell.” Sofia Vergara shared the same photo, writing in the caption, “We miss our boss!! Come back fast.”
Kelly Clarkson Is Filling in as an AGT Judge in Cowell’s Absence
Kelly Clarkson, who rose to fame as a recording artist after winning Cowell’s reality singing competition American Idol, announced that she’d be joining the celebrity panel of America’s Got Talent judges to fill the seat left by Cowell’s absence. On Instagram, she joked, “My friend, Simon Cowell, is doing better now but was in an accident and won’t be able to make Tuesday and Wednesday’s live shows for AGT, but no worries America, someone far wiser, cooler, and hotter is taking his seat! The unbelievably amazing Kelly Clarkson. You’re welcome in advance!”
Cowell is not the first judge to miss part of the season due to unforeseen circumstances. While they were filming the auditions (which were impacted by COVID-19), Heidi Klum got sick. Out of fear that she might have coronavirus, she had to miss 2 weeks of filming while she isolated at home; Klum’s COVID-19 test ultimately came back negative. Actor Eric Stonestreet, who co-starred on Modern Family with Vergara, stepped in to join the judges’ panel while Klum was home recovering.
New episodes of America’s Got Talent season 15 air live on Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 8/7c on NBC.