Open letter to America's Got Talent producers
by Isabelle Carreau, posted Sep 29th 2009 4:31PM
Before you continue reading this post, it's important that you know that I enjoy America's Got Talent and have been entertained by it since the first season. However, I, and I know a lot of fans too based on comments left here on the site, am not that happy with how the current season turned out.
Dear America's Got Talent producers, here are a few suggestions from myself and TV Squad readers on how you can improve next season.
I complained in a lot of reviews that the judges often made wrong decisions this season. However, I can admit that what is good and what is not differs from person to person so I can accept that the judges didn't always pick the acts I liked. Just take these two comments about Kevin Skinner winning the show as example of this: TV Squad reader Sick of the vulture mentality says that they would rather watch paint dry or what Kevin catch chickens than go to his 90-minute show in Vegas, while cheesecake loves Kevin and says he gave her goosebumps when singing.
No matter, the judging system needs to be improved and here are a few suggestions:
- Don't have the judges tell kids that they are so great that they should start picking houses for their family and then cut them in the next round without any reasons.
- Stop having bad acts be sent to the Vegas Verdicts round and even the Top 40 just for the sake of having wacky performers that'll have people talking. That shouldn't be part of the show. It is a TALENT competition so only put people with talent through.
- Either kill the Vegas elimination round as RobynM demands or at least have them perform during that round! You spend a ton of money to bring these acts from all over the country to Las Vegas. You should have them perform a second time to show the judges if they really have the goods or not.
- If you are set to have a Top 8, stick to it. The judges are hired to judge so make them do just that and choose who'll move on instead of changing the rules midstream to have a Top 10, as Carol pointed in comments. If you planned all along to have a Top 10, don't lie to us. Tell us from the start. The best way to fix this, as litehousebeacon wrote in comments, is to completely get rid of the judges' pick.
You need to change some of the rules of the game to make the playing field more even, but also more diverse:
- Kids are cute but since you are looking for an act that can play in Vegas, they don't stand a chance. Also, young children shouldn't be judged against adults. Either do a America's Kids Got Talent spin-off as xtinemichele suggests and/or change the minimal age for AGT to 13-years-old as Jon B. Knutson demands. Think about this, you could reduce the air time of AGT results show by half and fill the other half hour with the spin-off. The Kids version doesn't need to last three months, it could last a few weeks and be paired with AGT so you grab the same audience.
- There are way too many singing acts. Either have the rules say that "if you fall into the age range to audition for American Idol you cannot audition for AGT" or have the Top 40 perform by categories so that it will limit the amount of singers going into the Top 20. We need more variety acts.
- Get rid of the "we are looking for an act for Vegas" line as it has very talented people get cut early when they shouldn't. If you decide to stick with that line, then look at the type of shows that work in Vegas and you'll see that there aren't as many singers as the judges keep putting in the Top 40 and that there are more magic acts then you even let go through to the Vegas Verdicts round. As Jon B. Knutson suggests, "work it from the viewpoint that you are casting America's greatest talent for an hour-long Vegas variety show and then decide that you need to specific acts for the show." Jon makes a good suggestion that the one-hour Vegas show will feature at least eleven acts and that the AGT winner will more than likely perform for 20 minutes. He suggests that America votes for the best act per category (magic, musical group, comedy, juggling, acrobatics, dance, solo singing, miscellaneous) and then vote for the best act out of these category winners to crown the ultimate AGT winner. That would allow for a more diverse finale and would probably help fill the "Vegas" theme best.
Finally, you need to make some tweaks to the episodes' format:
- Deborah MK would like that people's life stories not be aired on the show. I personally don't mind the life stories as they help us connect with the contestants. However, I would ditch them during the auditions since we don't know yet who'll make it or not but have them when America starts voting. Each act should get the same amount of "life story" airtime so that they are all on the same playing field. Kevin Skinner, The Voices of Glory, Barbara Padillo, just to name three, got loads of life story airtime while Acrodunk, Mario and Jenny, and some other performers got practically none. However, don't go overboard with them as, taking xtinemichele's words, "it's America's Got Talent and not America's Got a Compelling Backstory." Oh and the back stories segments? Keep them for the Top 40, after that, I only want to see the talent.
- Announce the winners/finalists sooner during the results shows. Stop dragging it for so long. We understand that you stretch the results show to have more commercials (aka money) but, as suggested by Bob Kohley, could you at least announce the AGT winner at least ten minutes before the time is up so we can enjoy the moment with the winner and have the host interact with the winner and family members? As Bob says, the current version is "slam, bam, see ya m'am." We devoted three months of TV viewing to the show, we should be allowed a few minutes with the winner, shouldn't we? Cutting time from the results show as well as reducing the amount of guest performances would allow you to air America's Kids Got Talent.
- I've mentioned a lot of times how the sound was weak on the show. Jim Kosmicki comments that there are better sound from live sports shows and, since AGT is entertainment, the sound should be better. Jim and I agree that far too often, you hear the background music or singers more than the front-stage performer.
One last comment about the host:
- Personally, I didn't hate Nick Cannon as host. I actually preferred him in the end when compared to Jerry Springer since I couldn't stand how robotic Jerry was when reading the teleprompter and the lack of genuine contact he had with the contestants. However, it looks like some of the viewers didn't like Nick at all. RobynM says that Nick was mean-spirited backstage and that she wants Jerry back or at least for you to get rid of Nick.
Dear producers, I know there is little chance you'll make the changes listed above as your ratings will still be high next season no matter what you do. However, it would be great that you would listen to what the fans want to help make the show even better.
AGT fans, do you have other suggestions to add to the list? Share your opinion in comments below.