‘America’s Got Talent’ To Restart Production On Season 15 With New COVID-19 Protocols

Cheer Athletics performing on America's Got Talent
Justin Lubin / NBC

America’s Got Talent will become one of the first “big-budget non-scripted” television shows to resume production amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to Deadline.

The article stated that the popular talent competition series started to film outside last week in Los Angeles. Deadline spoke with several of the show’s executive producers and creator Simon Cowell to understand the safety protocols put in place for restarting filming.

On May 26, America’s Got Talent returned for Season 15 with multiple audition episodes already filmed before the shutdown occurred. The next obstacle became how to move forward with filming on the Judge Cut episodes and the vital live episodes.

As part of streamlining the process, the network has decided to reduce the number of Judge Cut episodes to just one, which will debut on July 28.

The plan is for the number of acts to be reduced to 60 in total, with a “best-of auditions episode” scheduled to air on July 21, followed by “a 15th anniversary special on August 4.”

Deadline has learned that new episodes of the long-running reality show have been filmed on a large “outdoor movie stage” designed similarly to an old-school drive-in theater. The stage was created in Simi Valley, California, where production resumed.

Cowell, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, and the newest judge, Sofia Vergara, have arrived to set in separate vehicles and sit in chairs spread far apart to maintain social distancing while they watch the acts perform.

Sofia Vergara and Simon Cowell on 'America's Got Talent.'
Sofia Vergara and Simon Cowell on ‘America’s Got Talent.’ Trae Patton / NBC

While speaking with the publication, Cowell said that everyone was very excited to be together again.

“I could see the relief on the crews faces that they were back at work and then we turned around the corner to the set we’d built and it was honestly one of the most amazing experiences I can remember for a long time.”

He continued, saying that it was a “huge endeavor to figure out how to move forward with taping our Judge Cuts at this time.”

With the “variety” of acts on America’s Got Talent, Cowell said they wanted to come up with something “really creative” to “capture our performances.”

The 60-year-old super-producer also admitted that he did not particularly enjoy doing the Judge Cut episodes since they did not feel as exciting as the audition and live performance episodes. Cutting down to only one seemed like the right choice to make.

Cowell added that he would like to “stick to this new way we’ve done it” for future seasons, also teasing that the 15th season felt even better than previous ones.