5:20 pm EDT, April 8, 2014

‘America’s Got Talent’ judges tease new ‘golden buzzer,’ other changes in upcoming season

America’s Got Talent judges Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, and Mel B were on hand at NBC’s Summer Press Day to discuss what’s new in the forthcoming season.

The judges of America’s Got Talent were joined by host Nick Cannon and executive producers Sam Donnelly and Jason Raff. The show’s fourth judge Howard Stern was not present due to radio show commitments in New York.

The panelists were in good spirits as they touted the ninth outing for the NBC’s summer competition series.

As usual, new elements have been added to the new season of America’s Got Talent including a “golden buzzer,” which each judge can use only once. By pressing it, Klum explained, the golden buzzer allows the contestant on stage to go through to the next round even if they receive three X’s from the other judges. This new element will allow a judge to push someone through, whether or not the other judges approved of the talent.

Mandel says that he has already used his golden buzzer vote even though they’re only half way through taping. “I don’t know if I squandered my opportunity,” he said, referring to the fact that he can’t use it again later in the season.

Also new this year is boot camp in front of a live audience and the fact that the judges are only holding auditions in New York and Los Angeles. Previous seasons have seen the judges travel around the country.

Mandel argues that the advantage of only having two cities is that the auditions will be extra challenging. “Whereas an act may’ve been comfortable to be in their home town, they are [instead] flown to Madison Square Garden, or they’ll be on stage here at the Dolby Theater [in Hollywood] where the Academy Awards are held.”

agt-2014-summer-press-day-heidi-klumWith so many seasons under its belt, the question of keeping the show fresh was brought up. Klum argues that the show stays exciting thanks to contestants feeling challenged by previous seasons. “People get more inventive,” she says. “They see a season and they think they want to top that.”

Despite seeing countless acts over the years, “I think we are truly really excited about what we see,” Mandel adds. “We always say this year is the best year. We genuinely will go back stage and say to each other, ‘Can you believe that guy did that?'”

A highlight reel screened Tuesday afternoon to the media showed lots of interesting auditions including a magician who took Klum’s bra off and a musically-inclined 9-year-old who was already accepted to college. To sum it up in Mandel’s words during the panel, the footage looked “more dangerous, crazier, and spectacular.”

Towards the end of the panel the three judges were asked what they gravitate towards when it comes to auditions. “There’s been a lot of twerking,” Klum said to laughs from the audience.

Mel B and Mandel are most interested in comedians. Said the latter, “I like comedians, but even more than that I like the comedy genre. I love people who are legitimately funny,” he said. “I think that what’s lacking in today’s landscape of entertainment is a real, genuine, laughable, funny character. This year we have a lot of that.”

America’s Got Talent premieres May 27 on NBC. Live shows begin July 29 from Radio City Music Hall.

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