Tonight, America’s Got Talent kicks off season 15’s live shows, and with that comes a bit of a shakeup when it comes to judges for the show. Since Simon Cowell broke his back earlier this week, Kelly Clarkson stepped in as a substitute for the first two live episodes.
Not only will the show be changed by the social distancing requirements due to the global coronavirus pandemic, but production is also now dealing with the fact that Simon Cowell broke his back in a fall from an electric bicycle over the weekend.
Cowell underwent surgery and is doing fine, according to USA Today. It has been reported that he’s already playing pranks and getting back to work, so it’s likely the AGT family will be seeing him soon.
“Some good advice… If you buy an electric trail bike, read the manual before you ride it for the first time,” Cowell tweeted after his surgery. “I have broken part of my back. Thank you to everyone for your kind messages.”
He also thanked the nurses and doctors, who he said were some of the nicest people he’s ever met.
Kelly Clarkson Stepped in For Simon Cowell For This Week’s ‘AGT’ Live Shows
Since producer and judge Simon Cowell couldn’t make it to the live shows, Kelly Clarkson will step in for the time being, she announced on Instagram.
“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,” Clarkson’s post read. “But no worries America, someone far wiser, cooler, and hotter is taking his seat! The unbelievably amazing Kelly Clarkson. You’re welcome in advance.”
Tonight’s show will feature the first 11 of the 44 remaining acts, and five of those acts will advance to the next round based on America’s vote.
Clarkson Joins ‘AGT’ While Social Distancing
Due to the pandemic, AGT has taken some additional steps to keep their cast and crew safe, judge Howie Mandel told USA Today.
He said the changes include the addition of masks, tests, temperature checks, work pods and specific bathroom assignments for contract tracing, if necessary. He said that it makes the set feel like “the safest place in the world, but it feels otherworldly.”
He compared seeing the crew around to what it must be like to film a show “on the moon.”
The live shows are being filmed at Universal Studios Hollywood instead of in their usual venue, Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre. Each of the acts will perform in the theme park, on a soundstage and at the famed backlot of the studios.
Some of the acts, unfortunately, were not able to return for performances in-person and had to be filmed remotely in foreign countries due to travel complications.
USA Today says that the show will be adding a “virtual audience” similar to the way the NBA has. They will feature audio and video of fans watching the live feeds from their homes.
Performances tonight will be from Bello and Annaliese Nock, Archie Williams, Brett Loudermilk, Double Dragon, Feng E, Frenchie Babyy, Michael Yo, Pork Chop Revue, Roberta Battaglia, Shaquira McGrath, and Simon and Maria.
Voting for the show opens at the beginning of the episode and will close down at 7 a.m. ET on Wednesday.
America’s Got Talent airs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.