‘America’s Got Talent’ Debuts Without Heidi Klum, Mel B — What Happened?

The pair were replaced by Julianne Hough and Gabrielle Union, but why?

Simon Cowell attends NBC's "America's Got Talent" Season 14 Kick-Off
Amy Sussman / Getty Images

The pair were replaced by Julianne Hough and Gabrielle Union, but why?

(NOTE: This post will contain a minor spoiler for the first episode of this season’s America’s Got Talent.)

America’s Got Talent debuted on Tuesday night on NBC — without judges Mel B and Heidi Klum in their former chairs. The pair were replaced by Julianne Hough and Gabrielle Union, Women’s Health reports. Meanwhile, judges Howie Mandel and Simon Cowell remain.

So, what happened?

Cowell — who is not only a judge, but also an executive producer — explained that throughout the show’s 14 seasons, the judging and hosting duties have changed from time to time. When the show began in 2006, for example, the host was Jerry Springer, and the original three judges were Piers Morgan, Brandy Norwood, and David Hasslehoff. In the ensuing years, the show has gone through several hosts and several judges, also switching to a four-judge format.

In some cases there’s been drama — such as when Nick Cannon and NBC couldn’t see eye to eye, and he publicly called out the network in 2017. But in the case of Mel B and Heidi Klum, there was no drama, and no hard feelings. It was apparently just time for a change.

“It wasn’t like it wasn’t working. Everyone who’s been on the show over the years, judge or host, has done a brilliant job. It’s just one of those shows where I think occasionally they just like to rotate the panel,” Cowell said.

Further, as Good Housekeeping reports, Cowell was adamant that — despite issues in her personal life — Mel B didn’t bring them to the show, nor did these issues have anything to do with her leaving. Cowell called her “very professional.”

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It’s not like leaving America’s Got Talent is the end of Mel B’s career, in any case. She and three other Spice Girls — minus Victoria Beckham, aka Posh Spice — are currently in the midst of a Spice Girls reunion tour. What’s more, as was previously reported by The Inquisitr, Mel B temporarily lost sight in one eye following laser eye surgery. She regained her sight, but the follow-up care she’s going to need would have interfered with America’s Got Talent‘s live shows.

As for Heidi Klum, she, too, has plenty going on in her career aside from the venerable NBC summer talent show. As Bustle reports, she’s working on a new project for Amazon’s streaming service.

Meanwhile, it seems that the show is doing just fine with its new hosts. On Tuesday night’s episode, new judge Gabrielle Union brought down the house when she used her one and only Golden Buzzer on blind and autistic performer Kodi Lee.