America’s Got Talent has officially returned. After taking time off from production due to the coronavirus pandemic, the reality competition has found some creative methods to maintain social distancing and continue filming Season 15, Deadline reports.
Production on the series shut down in March after America’s Got Talent had filmed only six audition episodes. Now, the show is back following a months-long filming hiatus, and plenty of changes have been put in place to make it all happen.
The show began filming last week in Los Angeles, moving venues from its typical glamorous concert hall to a more spacious outdoor stage designed to look like a drive in theater. The show’s judges, Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Sofia Vergara, all drive up to the set in their own cars, then take a seat in socially-distanced director’s chairs.
“It was something that encompasses the Southern California lifestyle and scenery that we all know and love, and in some ways are missing right now,” AGT executive producers Sam Donnelly and Jason Raff told Deadline. “Wait until you see the vehicles the judges arrive in. We simply had to have some fun with this.”
To adjust to the new production schedule, NBC scaled back the number of Judge Cuts episodes, reducing them from four to one for Season 15. The Judge Cuts episode will air July 28. There will also be fewer acts, with only 60, not 72.
Cowell said he didn’t mind the loss of a few Judge Cuts episodes. “I personally now would stick to this new way we’ve done it not just for the present but for the future,” he said. “I think it is a better show this year than it has been on previous years.”
To keep everyone safe on set, there was regular testing, and talent was responsible for handling their own microphones. There was also a pod system on set put in place by producers. Under the system, each pod was a specific area of production, and every person in the zone had to practice social distancing. If they had to speak to someone in a different zone, they would use a phone or walkie-talkie. And of course, masks were required on set, with the exception of talking on camera.
America’s Got Talent also has live shows to plan, which are still on the schedule this year for Aug. 11. During the live shows, 44 acts will put their skills on display for the audience over the course of four weeks. The producers are optimistic they’ll be able to bring the shows back to the Dolby Theater, but they’ve also discussed the possibility of both a live and virtual audience.
Source: New York Post
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