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.

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