Amid reports of a toxic work environment, the second season of “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” premiered Monday on NBC. Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel returned to evaluate the talent competition alongside Heidi Klum and Alesha Dixon, who replaced Julianne Hough and Gabrielle Union following their controversial exits.
Hough and Union left “America’s Got Talent” after one season over a reported culture of toxic, racist jokes and “excessive notes” about physical appearance on set, Variety reported in November. But the show must continue.
Ten former winners and standout acts from different “Talent” editions around the world returned to the stage for an opportunity to beat the “best of the greatest,” as “Britain’s Got Talent” import Dixon said. “Everyone you see on this stage is already a champion. It’s anyone’s game,” Mandel added. Gabrielle Union after ‘AGT’ exit:
I spoke my ‘unfiltered truth’ in 5-hour NBC meeting The first round of the pre-recorded competition was dominated by singers – five to be exact – but Angelina Jordan outshined all of them. “This moment, this point onstage, this song, this performance will go on to vary your life and your career forever,”
Mandel said. The 13-year-old singer won Season 6 of “Norway’s Got Talent” as a “little girl with big hair and (missing) teeth” at age 7, she said. But, “since I was young very young I’ve always wanted to sing for Simon.” Jordan got the possibility on Monday and didn’t waste the “biggest opportunity in my life,” performing a stripped-down version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
“Everything about tonight felt like it all came from you. The arrangement of the song, the simplicity of it. I’ve never heard that song in this version before. Seriously, this was a tremendous performance,” Cowell said. “I don’t think you recognize how good you can perform.”
Klum had enough of all the chit-chat: “Finally I hope you guys are finished talking! you’ve got no idea how hard it’s for someone like me to take a seat here and wait all this time for you guys …” the supermodel said, before jumping out of her seat to hit the Golden Buzzer. With that, Jordan instantly advanced to the finals round. The singer said, “I don’t have any words to explain how amazing it feels. many thanks and a lot more than thanks. i really like you guys.”
Trapeze act Duo Transcend and magician Dania Diaz advanced through to the semifinals by way of superfan votes. (Since the entire competition is taped, there’ll be no live voting.) The judges also sent through singing accordionist Hans. The eliminated acts were salsa dancing duo Paddy and Nicko; singer Mike Yung; shadow-dance group Junior Creative Dance; singer Jack Vidgen; comedian Dan Naturman and singer Eddie Williams. “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” will return on Jan. 13 with 10 more former winners and finalists.