‘America’s Got Talent’ Premiere: A New Judge & New Attitude

Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel on America's Got Talent (NBC)

Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel on America's Got Talent (NBC)

Never has an off-season improvement been as effective as Howie Mandel’s swap-out of David Hasselhoff on ‘America’s Got Talent.’ If Hasselhoff’s now-dunzo endless “Hoff” references are Atari, Howie Mandel is PlayStation 3. Mandel’s quick wit and boldness to stand up to the stuffiness of Piers Morgan. Mandel rounds out the show and replaces the Hoff shout outs quicker than you can say ‘Baywatch.’

Well, besides Howie – there were a few performances, too. And that’s what ‘America’s Got Talent’ is all about! Tuesday’s show was the official start of the fifth season of the top-rated NBC show.

Los Angeles was 2010’s first city of auditions … and this year, the city known the world round for talent was better than last season’s wasteland of L.A. auditions. Sure, you had your been-there, seen-that song and dance acts. But there was also sick and bloody, pint-sized, and a pretty cool group of kung fu dancers. There may even be a few quarter-finalists from the first night of auditions.

Howie Mandel’s Hasselhoff ‘Talent’ Replacement Plan: Burgers & Booze

Fun Favorite: Emotional stories are great and everything, but it’s hard not to love the little breakdancers known as Future Funk. A 5-year-old and a 9-year-old, with a gelled Mohawk and poofed-out ‘fro, had moves and personality to boot. Their (very) young ages probably prevent them from going far in the competition, but their kick-off to the show put a smile on everyone’s face. Even yours. And how cute were their parents, waiting off the stage? If they don’t win, we are putting Future Funk in our pocket and taking them home.

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Superstar Voice: Ok, so the guy at end, Michael Grimm – he could be front-runner material. Even though we are a little ‘American Idol’-ed out, and Michael is so ‘Idol,’ and at 30 probably too “old,” but … that voice. Nick Cannon said it best off stage left when he claimed it belonged to a “superstar.” His twangs on “You Don’t Know Me” seemed pop and country in all the right places. While Grimm’s tenure may be unpredictable – one bad step and he could be out – he has talent, good looks, and a compelling ‘America’s Got Talent’ story. Grimm’s grandmother, who raised him, is living poor in Mississippi, and still suffering from devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina. A reason to root for him.

Tears All Around: The New Directions Choir, a troupe of reformed homeless people, rocked the house with a creative, sentimental interpretation of ‘Old Man River.’ But what really will keep these guys in the competition is their astounding, heartbreaking story. The choir is comprised of  military veterans who found themselves homeless, and have now cleaned up and moved on. With their combination of talent and spirit, they will be hard to beat.

Worst of the worst: How great was No Shade? Even if they are Milli Vanilli without the lip-syncing talent, these two guys were fantastic divas to the core. They left the stage overwhelmed with boos, fleeing the building without doing interviews. And they said hello to Sharon.

What did you think? Who was best? Anyone go through that didn’t deserve to?

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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