‘America’s Got Talent’ 2021: Did the Auditions Film With a Live Audience?

AGT Live Audience

Tyler Golden/NBC

Viewers of NBC’sAmerica’s Got Talent” noticed that there was an audience shown during the first episode of auditions, and some were wondering if the audience was actually in the studio or if the members were the product of some behind-the-scenes work.

The show, which premiered season 16 on NBC on Tuesday, June 1, 2021, did feature a limited live audience, according to People. The outlet spoke with panelist Howie Mandel about the return of the live audience after nearly a whole season without one.

“It was wonderful, it’s like you’ve been lost forever and now you feel like, ‘I’m home,'” Mandel told the outlet ahead of the premiere. “Just to hear a reaction behind you, just to hear anybody be behind you and, kind of, affirm that what you just heard or what you just saw or how you just judged – they’re either in agreement with [you], or they’re totally opposed to what you just said.”

Fans Reacted to What Looked Like a Huge Audience

During the season premiere, the show featured what looked like a very large, packed-in, maskless audience, which goes against the coronavirus restrictions in Los Angeles, where the show filmed, especially because those episodes were filmed in March 2021, and there were still mask mandates in place, according to ABC.

“I happened to catch the last few minutes of #AGT while waiting for New Amsterdam to start. What the hell is happening? And why are so many people in the audience without masks? There’s no way all those folks have been vaccinated,” one person tweeted.

The end credits of the show, however, addressed the situation.

“Due to COVID health restrictions, visuals of audience featured in this episode include real and virtual shots, as well as shots from past seasons,” the credits read. “The use of these visuals was for creative purposes only and did not impact the outcome of judging.”

It sounds like the show had editors take shots from previous seasons and mix them in with the actual, smaller audience that was present at the filming of the episode, then.

The Show Had Safety Guidelines in Place for a Limited Audience

According to Good Housekeeping, who spoke with an “America’s Got Talent” representative, the show had safety guidelines during the filming with a limited audience.

The representative told the outlet that the “joy in watching ‘AGT’ is feeling the audience response in the room to the auditions,” according to Good Housekeeping.

“Things have loosened up a little bit and [are] getting better,” Mandel told People of getting back to the studio. “We’re all getting vaccinated and the numbers have gone down. This is the sun that is shining that we’ve all been waiting for. And this has been so exciting in so many different ways. This year is the icing on the cake. This year is, ‘We’re back. We are the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Simon Cowell, the 61-year-old producer and judge, also returned to “America’s Got Talent” after his intense back injury that resulted in months of physical therapy and rest.

Mandel said that the show was “welcoming Simon back, healthier and better than ever.”

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