Howie Mandel Helps Boost ‘Talent’ Judges’ Spirits — If Not Ratings

Howie Mendal (Chris Haston/NBC)

Howie Mandel (Chris Haston/NBC)

Has Howie Mandel boosted ‘America’s Got Talent’s ratings since replacing David Hasselhoff? Not really. But the quick witted comedian has made his fellow judges, Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne, more alert – and funnier.

“I think he’s made us, meaning myself and Piers [Morgan], raise our game, because he is so honest,” Sharon Osbourne said after last week’s live taping of ‘America’s Got Talent’ in Hollywood, the show’s second of four quarterfinal elimination nights.

Hasselhoff, who had starred on ‘AGT’ since 2006, left the prime-time show over the winter hiatus, and Mandel took his place.

“[Howie and David are] two different people, two totally different views, they have a different opinion on everything,” Osbourne explains. “Howie came into the show as a fan, so he has watched it from day one. He was already emotionally invested in the show. It made his entry into the show a lot smoother. You know, he’s great. He is very easy to work with, [and] a very even-tempered guy.”

Watch Howie Mandel Answer Fan Questions:

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‘AGT’ ratings have been more or less comparable to last season, averaging between 11 and 12 million viewers a week, 16 episodes into the season since premiering June 1. While the average viewers is about the same as 2009, ‘AGT won the week among other primetime shows more last year until the season midpoint.

Mandel has been mostly praised since coming onto ‘AGT,’ now in its fifth season and executive-produced by Simon Cowell. A cagey show-business vet of 30 years, and coming off a highly successful run on ‘Deal or No Deal,’ Mandel is modest about the positive reception on ‘AGT.’

Mandel tells Fancast he hopes to be back for more seasons of the show — and would do it for little of nothing pay.

“It doesn’t feel like a job. I feel like I’m stealing it,” Mandel says. “I would show up. I shouldn’t say that. I have agents who probably don’t want me to say that … I’m just so excited to be here. It would be nice if people enjoy me on the show. I would love to be able to come back. I hope they keep me here.”

Longtime Mandel fans may wonder how the famous germaphobe, who insists on fist-bumps over handshakes, deal with being around so many people during the show’s live tapings in front of big audiences.

“Well, that’s how I manage life. I medicate it, and I go to therapy,” Mandel jokes. “But the thing about it, Hollywood has been the easiest part of the show for me because I no longer have to run and touch everybody in the audience. I love Hollywood.”

Mandel explains of judging ‘AGT,’ “The most exciting part of this job is I just feel like a fan watching the show. What I loved about the show as a fan, and I have been watching it for the last four years, is to watch, as Piers put it best, the journey of people who have a dream and hopes, real people, like you and me, like anybody who is watching the show. Then, in front of our eyes, this dream could come true, and they blossom into a commodity, a huge thing, a star, or a huge career. Just watching these people come out of wherever they come out of, watching it happen and start to get recognition and get accepted. Watching the show grow their performances every week they perform.”

Host Nick Cannon adds of Mandel’s performance on ‘AGT’: “He brings a fun vibe around, more than anything. It’s really exciting, he’s always quick witted, pulling a prank, telling a joke. It brings another cool element to the show.”

What do you think? Is Howie a good addition to the judges panel this season?

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

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