Howie Mandel replacing the Hoff on America’s Got Talent; Tom Papa hosting Marriage Ref

Deal or No Deal host Howie Mandel is joining America’s Got Talent as a judge for its fifth season, replacing David Hasselhoff, who quit to do another show. Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan are continuing as judges, and host Nick Cannon returns.

The casting announcement first came from NBC Universal executive Jeff Gaspin, who told TV critics, “Yes, I believe Howie Mandel is replacing him.” Typically demure critics laughed out loud when the conversation shifted from NBC moving Jay Leno away from his failed prime-time hour and someone asked him about David Hasselhoff’s replacement. NBC later sent out a press release officially announcing Mandel’s casting.

Meanwhile, NBC announced that the Jerry Seinfeld-produced series The Marriage Ref will air a half-hour preview on Feb. 28, following the closing ceremonies of the Olympics, and will be hosted by comedian Tom Papa. He’ll referee disputed between married couples; the show airs Sundays at 8 starting March 14, the same timeslot that CBS’ Amazing Race occupies.

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.