In the latest instance of reality talent shows that insert high-profile judges seemingly only to garner higher ratings, NBC announced today that Howard Stern will replace Piers Morgan as judge of America’s Got Talent, joining Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel. It’s definitely surprising.
When Paula Abdul left American Idol and was ultimately replaced by Ellen DeGeneres, there was huge backlash. It’s not that no one liked Ellen, as she’s very well-loved in the entertainment world. What fans of the show had a problem with was that Ellen didn’t really have a musical background. It seemed Fox was looking for someone high profile enough to replace Abdul, no matter what their background. Ellen only ended up lasting a year, but it didn’t have anything to do with her lack of judging talent. She did quite well on the show, but left, saying later she found it hard to be critical of people, something Nicole Scherzinger seems to be having a problem with on The X-Factor.
After months of speculation, this past season Idol replaced Simon Cowell with Steven Tyler, a move that worked surprisingly well. So many names were being thrown out there, with everyone from Harry Connick Jr. to Bret Michaels. Yet, it was Tyler who filled that judges’ chair. The addition of him to the show definitely brought in viewers, although producers have to be ready with the bleep button.
America’s Got Talent itself has gone through its share of judging panel changes, as well as host changes. The show started out being judged by Brit Piers Morgan, Brandy Norwood, and David Hasselhoff. Brandy only lasted a year before she was replaced with Sharon Osbourne. Regis Philbin was out as host as well, replaced by Jerry Springer. No one would have ever attached that talk show host with a talent show. He lasted a few years before being replaced by Nick Cannon, who definitely fits in well. A year after that switch, the Hoff was out and being replaced by Howie Mandel. While being known as a very funny guy, was he talent judge material?
It turns out Mandel fit in quite well as judge, and had some huge battles with Morgan, some of them seeming more personal than just for show. According to NBC, this past season, America’s Got Talent was the #1 non-sports telecast on ABC, CBS, NBC, or Fox in the total viewers in every single week it aired. That says they had a winning formula on their hands with their judges and host.
By no one’s surprise, Morgan announced he was dropping out to concentrate on his gig as talk show host, a spot he gained after replacing Larry King. The question was who NBC would find to replace the acerbic Brit. It seems the winning formula on both this show and American Idol is an acerbic Brit, a warm/maternal female, and a light-hearted comedian or musician. Idol changed that this past season replacing Cowell with Tyler, and now NBC is picking that up as well, replacing Morgan with Howard Stern.
There is no doubt Stern is acerbic, and he’s definitely not British either. NBC must have really wanted him badly, as they are also moving the live shows to New York, seemingly to accommodate Stern and his radio show. How will Howie, Howard, and Sharon do? There is no doubt they’ll do well in the ratings, but the audience that embraced last year’s show might not be so approving of a shock jock replacing Morgan.