NBC’s America’s Got Talent has filled its two vacant judge chairs. Modern Family star Sofia Vergara is joining the hit summer reality series as a new judge for its upcoming 15th season. Additionally, Heidi Klum, who was a judge on AGT for six seasons, from 2013-2018, is coming back. They are being joined by returning judges Simon Cowell, who is AGT’s creator and executive producer, and Howie Mandel, as well as host Terry Crews.
“I'm so happy to join my new family on AGT,” said Vergara, who will be making AGT history. “This is a new and exciting next chapter for me and I'm extremely proud to be the first Latin judge on the show. I can't wait to watch all the talent and have fun with all you guys!”
Vergara and Klum succeed Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough who were let go in November after one season on AGT. Union’s ouster sparked controversy and triggered an investigation over allegations of hostile work environment on the reality show. The investigation was supposed to wrap by end of January but its results are yet to be made public.
Klum never left the AGT franchise - she has been a judge on spinoff America’s Got Talent: The Champions.
“I'm so excited to be back at AGT with Simon, Howie and Terry. The fact that Sofia Vergara is joining us is the icing on an already delicious cake,” Klum said.
Vergara is coming off an 11-season run as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on ABC's hit comedy Modern Family, a role that has earned her four Emmy nominations.
“Sofia's infectious energy and sharp wit will blend perfectly with returning favorites Heidi, Simon, Howie, and Terry. As both a respected actress and successful entrepreneur, she embodies the American dream that is synonymous with AGT's transformative stage,” said Meredith Ahr, President, Alternative & Reality Group, NBC Entertainment.
Last summer, America's Got Talent averaged a 2.1 rating in adults 18-49 and 11.9 million viewers overall in Live+7 Nielsens. The 14th cycle of AGT once again easily ranked as the summer's #1 most-watched entertainment series, towering by 4.4 million viewers over the next most-watched entertainment program.
AGT is also a digital/social phenomenon, amassing 3.2 billion views across all digital video platforms in 2019. AGT was the #1 most-social broadcast series of 2019 42.8 million total interactions to date in linear metrics, Source: Nielsen Social SCR.
Though “The Plot Against America” took its time to get going, it’s full steam ahead for David Simon’s Philip Roth adaptation by Episode 4 — but to what end? With just two episodes to go, the drama has certainly flared up: The Levin familial bonds are being pushed to the brink as Sandy falls increasingly under Lindbergh’s spell, with the help of Aunt Evelyn and her new boyfriend Rabbi Bengelsdorf. The lines have been drawn, and it’s not looking good for either side. While this was by far the most exciting episode so far, it still feels as though Simon is obligingly following Roth’s outline rather than forging his own path.
In both the novel and the series “The Plot Against America,” there’s an unmentioned but implicit rhetorical question reaching out from beyond the page and screen. To borrow from the musical “Cabaret,” one of the only pieces of pop culture to artfully grapple with this unthinkable dilemma: What would you do? If a fascist were elected president of your country, if your sister started dating one of his shills, if your son was secretly sketching his visage by flashlight — how would you behave? Would you flee to Canada, organize the resistance, or stick your head in the sand and hope for the best?
The fourth episode hones in on these questions with laser-like precision, enjoying the fruits of the preceding three episodes that felt, both in retrospect and in real time, mostly like set-up. Having returned from his “Just Folks” adventure in Kentucky, a Hitler Youth-esque recruiting tool of Rabbi Bengelsdorf’s John Turturro design, Sandy has quite literally become the poster child for assimilationist Jews. Evelyn Winona Ryder proudly features him in a brochure for the program, against Bess’ Zoe Kazan wishes.
Sandy’s transformation has been building since the pilot episode, which ended with him surreptitiously sketching Charles Lindbergh from of a newspaper clipping. Having planted the seeds deliberately, the show earns its most uncomfortable moment so far when Sandy spits at his parents, calling them “ghetto Jews — narrow-minded ghetto Jews.” His transformation is complete. When Bess slaps him across the face, it’s hard not to let out a silent cheer. Your Jewish firstborn becoming a Nazi sympathizer may be the rare instance when a kid deserves a good wallop.
Less effective is a Shabbas dinner argument between Herman Morgan Spector and Bengelsdorf, where Herman puts aside any last shred of civility to tell the Rabbi what he really thinks of his man Lindbergh. Maybe it’s the fact that only the men are talking while the women make sidelong glances of...
On news broadcasts and cable news channels, the company will reduce commercial loads to allow for more programming. On the entertainment front, late night shows as well as unscripted series on Bravo, E! and USA, will all feature extended episodes and bonus content in lieu of some commercial pods.
NBCUniversal will reduce advertising loads across its networks and add more entertainment and news content as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues, and as families quarantine at home.
“Now, people all across America are turning to us more for the content that comforts them and connects them to the outside world,” writes NBCUniversal ad sales and partnerships chairman Linda Yaccarino in a blog post Monday afternoon. “At the same time, some marketers across every industry have asked to pause their advertising plans or shift their messages, and they're looking for ideas, tools, and strategies from their most trusted partners. So, in light of everything we're seeing and hearing, we want to do what's right for our audiences and marketers.”
On the broadcast news shows and the company's cable news channels MSNBC and CNBC, the company will reduce commercial loads to allow for more news and information programming.
On the entertainment front, late night shows The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen now originating from the hosts' homes, as well as unscripted series on Bravo, E! and USA, will all feature extended episodes and bonus content in lieu of some commercial pods.
Some of the company's channels will also launch family movie nights, with sponsored but commercial-free airings of films.
Late last month the advertising research firm Magna Global predicted that the U.S. TV ad market would fall by 13 percent in 2020 due to the fallout from the pandemic, calling the situation “totally unprecedented.” The travel, restaurant and movie sectors in particular have pulled back ad spend.
In addition, NBCUniversal finds itself in the position of having to fill many hours of programming that had been set aside for coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which have since been postponed until 2021.
Yaccarino also writes that the company will be engaging in outreach to companies and waiving fees “to allow companies to reach their customers directly in their homes and generate much-needed sales.” That will include access to remote production teams, brand assets, talent, translation services, and editing services, which can all be used to create new campaigns even as most people are staying home.
The company also released new research on Monday outlining the increased media consumption during the last few weeks. The research found that digital and linear TV viewing is up, gaming is up significantly, and that streaming services are seeing subscription gains, while...