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October 4, 2015

On the Scene; 'America's Got Talent' Semi-Finals Part 2

by Michael Maloney, posted Sep 1st 2010 7:30PM
America's Got Talent Usually, the 'America's Got Talent' audience reserves their boos and hisses for buzz-happy judge Piers Morgan, but last night the audience's wrath was thrust upon judge Howie Mandel who gave a strike to teen pianist Maestro Alexander Bui.

"As a human being, I feel bad about [buzzing] somebody, but my gut takes over during the show," Mandel told TV Squad after taping. "[Alexander Bui] is an amazing pianist. At this point we have so much more 'wow' coming from other people."

In addition to making the most controversial strike of the night, Mandel also got the biggest laugh when he commented on the noticeable noise that could be heard from behind the curtains as stage hands moved the train that magician Murray made "disappear."

The dichotomy was the big elephant in the room and Mandel gets the "Joy Behar award" of the night for saying what everyone in the audience was likely thinking.

"That's been my issue my entire life," Mandel said. "I've gotten in a lot of trouble for blurting things out, but it's also afforded me a career so it's okay."

Was it a risk for singer Alice Tan Hadley to select a Whitney Huston song? "It's a big, big song, but she sang it very well," said Morgan.

"She delivered it well, but it was a tough night to be a singer -- unless your name is Jackie," Mandel added, referring to front-runner Jackie Evancho, the young opera singing sensation.

Morgan used his buzzer, too, giving contortionist Haspop a strike. "Any normal year Haspop would be in the top 10," Morgan explained. "But the standard this season is unbelievable."

"It's a tough call [with Haspop]," concurred judge Sharon Osbourne. "He's at the top of his craft, but I don't know that we haven't seen the best of him."

How influential does Morgan think his comments and strikes are with the viewing audience? "I called it exactly as I see it," he insisted. "I am determined to get a message to the American public that we don't want to be like 'American Idol' and have 10 singers in the final. Tonight, Alice was great, but Debra [Romer] was not at her best and Nathaniel [Kenyon] was flat. Jackie obviously does [deserve to be in the finals.] The other four should be variety acts -- Fighting Gravity, Jeremy, Studio One...even the Maestro. I'd love to see him there."

If Jackie does win, what do her parents need to do in order to make sure her childhood remains intact? "Her parents shouldn't say 'yes' to everything," Osbourne advised. "They have to pick the professional offers carefully. Less is more with somebody like Jackie. The less she does the more special she becomes. That allows her to still have somewhat of her childhood."

"This show felt like it could have been a finale," host Nick Cannon declared. "It was the best 'America's Got Talent' episode I've seen."

Morgan isn't a fan of aerial acts, but Michael and Ashleigh's routine impressed him. "[Aerial performances] can be boring, but Michael and Ashleigh are very passionate, graceful and interesting. They engage the audience. They're cool. I like them."

There were a few standing ovations throughout the evening, but audiences members couldn't get on their feet fast enough for Jeremy Vanshoonhoven, the injured cyclist who proved that the show must go on.

"The courage of that guy," Morgan marveled. "He's a total risk-freak. He fell from the top, nearly killing himself in rehearsal, made a mistake during the show. Most people would have bailed out. He's got more guts than anybody I've seen in the show."

'Dancing With the Stars' tapes at the same facility in Hollywood as 'AGT,' so it wasn't a total surprise to see 'DWTS' season 11 celebrity Florence Henderson ('The Brady Bunch') walk past the post-show interview area.

"I like you, Piers," Henderson called out, deadpanning, "Even when no one else did!"

"You're enough," Morgan shot back with a smile.

"Don't talk to her," Osbourne said in a faux-admonishing tone. "She was in bed with my husband!" She explained, "They did a TV commercial years ago for Pepsi. The kids, Ozzie and Florence did it. In the scene, Ozzie was dreaming and he woke up in bed and Florence was next to her."

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