Sofia Vergara, Heidi Klum join America's Got Talent as judges for season 15
Vergara and Heidi Klum will join the America's Got Talent judges' panel for the show's upcoming 15th season. The Modern Family star will be making her debut as an AGT judge, while Klum is returning after sitting out season 14. (Klum has, however, served as a judge on both seasons of spin-off America's Got Talent: The Champions so far.) Judges Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel are also returning, as is host Terry Crews.
“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 in a statement.
“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,” added Meredith Ahr, President, Alternative & Reality Group, NBC Entertainment.
Vergara and Klum are coming aboard at a contentious time for the NBC show. They will replace outgoing judges Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough, both of whom exited after only one season. Reports later pointed to a "toxic" workplace environment at AGT, citing a number of alleged incidents that led to Union being fired. These reportedly included Union raising objections over a racist joke from guest judge Jay Leno, Cowell‘s illegal smoking on set, the crew telling Union some of her hairstyles were “too black” for the show, and one contestant performing a Beyoncé impression while donning black-painted hands.
In December, Union tweeted that she had had a "lengthy 5-hour, and...productive meeting" with NBC, AGT production company Fremantle, and Cowell’s company Syco Entertainment, in which, she said, she was able to share her "unfiltered truth."
“The initial conversation was candid and productive,” NBC said in a statement at the time. “While there will be a further investigation to get a deeper understanding of the facts, we are working with Gabrielle to come to a positive resolution.” No further news has been released since. Performers’ union SAG-AFTRA has also launched an investigation into the matter.
America's Got Talent will return for its 15th season this summer.