Simon Cowell replaces Howard Stern as a judge in NBC’s America’s Got Talent lineup for next summer’s eleventh season. The announcement by the oldest major broadcast network in the United States was released on Thursday, October 22, 2015, making the shift official.
Cowell, 55, has been part of ongoing discussions with NBC in the last few years to join the show’s panel of judges. As he replaces Stern, 61, the timing seems right, because the radio host announced his intentions on September 16, 2015, to leave the highly rated reality series.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Cowell, one of the show’s producers and creators of the format, was welcomed by NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt, as knowing the format better than anyone. Confirming his acceptance of the position, Cowell issued the following statement.
“I am really thrilled to be joining America’s Got Talent next season. What I love about this show is that it’s open to absolutely anyone. America has some fantastic talent just waiting to be discovered, and I would like that talent to come to our show, including any dogs who can sing!”
Even while the ratings for other reality shows have slipped, America’s Got Talent has remained one of summer’s most popular programs. Due to its astounding success, its format has been widely imitated in some 183 countries. According to Entertainment Weekly, America’s Got Talent averaged a 2.9 rating and 12.5 million viewers in the past season. Its Tuesday edition took the No. 1 position in viewership among the summer reality shows for a tenth consecutive year. 2014–2015 was also its most most-watched season in four years.
Howie Mandel, Mel B., and Heidi Klum were the judges with Stern for the last season, and NBC has not indicated who replaces any of them — nor is there word out yet about show host Nick Cannon, 35, now dating former America’s Got Talent contestant Samantha Johnson, 26, who is a dead ringer for his ex, Mariah Carey, 45.
Stern, who has been a marquee attraction for America’s Got Talent, devoted four seasons to it, far longer than was expected when he first joined the series. According to 11 Alive, as Cowell replaces him, Stern provides the following rationale.
“I’ve got my radio contract coming up here in January. The good people here at SiriusXM like me very much and they would like me to do the show some more. I’ve got to think that through and figure out what’s best for me there. And I have been made an offer in television that excites me. Excites me to no end. I think it would be a great opportunity. But I can’t do America’s Got Talent, my radio show, and this television opportunity.”
When Stern was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2012, he also began his role as a judge on America’s Got Talent until his 2015 decision to quit. While Cowell replaces him, Stern remains iconic as the most fined radio host, based on Federal Communications Commission fines totaling $2.5 million for indecent content in his broadcasts. Stern became one of the highest paid radio figures after his five-year deal with SiriusXM in 2004 worth $500 million.
Cowell, most recently a judge on the ninth series of Britain’s Got Talent and the eleventh series of The X Factor, is known for his acerbic comments about contestants. When Cowell replaces Stern, more of this behavior is anticipated by fans worldwide.
With an estimated net worth pegged by the Motley Fool at $550 million, Cowell has taken summer time out for seaside relaxation with his 1-year-old son, Eric, and partner Lauren Silverman, 38. Us reports that she left her first husband, Andrew Silverman, in 2013 when she became pregnant with Cowell’s child. Eric is Cowell’s first child, and the second son for Silverman.
As Cowell replaces Stern, expectations are high that America’s Got Talent will attract even more viewers.
[Photo by Ethan Miller / Getty Images]