''America's Got Talent'' judges on last night's ep: At the taping of the first semifinal, EW chatted with Brandy, David Hasselhoff, Piers Morgan, and host Regis Philbin about their summer hit
Apparently, variety is the spice of summer: With its weird but somehow winning mishmash of serious and novelty acts, America’s Got Talent debuted with 12.4 million viewers in late June and has been at the top of the ratings since. EW attended the taping of last night’s first semifinal round, in which judges Brandy, David Hasselhoff, and Piers Morgan selected 10 acts — including tap-dancers, a ventriloquist, a yodeler, and a hula-hooper — to perform for two spots in the finals. (The judges picked the Millers, a sibling musical duo, to advance; viewers will choose another.) Here’s what the judges and host Regis Philbin told us about the show’s success, their favorite contestants, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How do you think tonight went?
BRANDY Great. I was really happy with the talent we chose, and the winner we chose. We wanted to make sure the Millers got through, in case the audience didn’t vote for them, because we love the group. But we also put hints out there about the other ones we liked, for America to vote for them.
Any surprises tonight?
There was this one girl, Jessica Sanchez. She didn’t get a chance to perform tonight [for a finals spot]. There were three girls in the competition, so we went with one of the other girls [Alexis Jordan], but I was disappointed by her performance. I thought Jessica was better, but I was out-voted.
You’ve been a performer. It must be hard for you to judge because you know how tough it can be to get up there.
It is, so that’s why I try and do it in a way where they don’t feel invalidated. I’m not trying to put anyone down — I’m trying to connect with them on a different level, as an artist.
It’s easy to put you in the Paula Abdul role, the Nice One. Are you resisting that?
Well, I’m trying to be myself. I’m a nice girl but I’m an honest girl. And I’m sassy — I have lip for Piers, lip for David, but I’m cool about it.
Your career seems to be skewing more toward TV now. Did you think that would happen?
I’m letting my career come to me. I think I have been blessed with the gift of voice, and I’m a happy person and I try to give good energy, and I think the show is bringing that across. TV is my home and where I grew up, but I don’t want people to forget I am a musician and a singer. I have an album coming out, maybe in December.
How strange was it to come into The View after the Star Jones exit?
They were so professional, and they really welcomed me there. It was hard, because I didn’t know my place and how I would get my opinion in there. I was nervous, but then I felt comfortable.
Do you think they were shaken by what happened?
Probably, but you couldn’t tell. It really felt like nothing ever happened.
Would you be Star’s replacement, if the job is offered to you?
I don’t know. I’m not really thinking about that right now, because I have so much on my plate. I just wanted to get there and get the experience and promote America’s Got Talent. This is the show I’m on, and it has opened so many doors.
Are you rooting for all the singers?
I would love to see a singer win, but I want the best person to win.
Any other picks?
I love the Rappin’ Granny. I think she is amazing.