This week, America’s Got Talent concludes its 10th season. AGT is the reigning summer ratings champion, routinely crushing all else, reality TV and otherwise. It endures despite more than 100 percent turnover in its judges and hosts during its lifespan, never mind a string of not-so-impressive winners.
Below is a brief history of the NBC reality competition and its highlights.
the concept, 2005
- September: A pilot for what will become Britain’s Got Talent is filmed with both American Idol judge Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan as judges. However, presenter Paul O’Grady’s dispute with ITV leaves the show unaired. The British version ultimately won’t debut until 2007.
season one, 2006
- February: NBC announces the show that will search for an amateur variety and novelty acts to headline in Las Vegas. Later, that becomes a $1 million prize.
- April: preliminary auditions are held
- May: Regis Philbin is announced as host and David Hasselhoff, Piers Morgan, and Brandy Norwood as judges.
- June: Auditions air. During the semi-finals, the judges have both Xs and check marks.
- July: The Hoff is already annoyed and is threatening to quit; he says he was lured in by the money.
- June 21: The show debuts
- Aug. 17: 11-year-old singer Bianca Ryan wins season one.
season two, 2007
- March: Jerry Springer replaces Regis Philbin as host
- April: The rumors are correct: Brandy is out and Sharon Osbourne is in
- A new stage of the competition is added: a pre-semifinal round in Las Vegas that narrows the pool of those sent through during the auditions. Also, the check marks disappear.
- June: The show beats The Sopranos’ finale in the ratings
- I reported on the meaning of the disclaimer in the credits that specifies the prize is a $1 million annuity. In effect, that means the prize is actually worth $25,000 a year or $375,000.
- August: Singing ventriloquist Terry Fator wins season two
- November: World’s Got Talent, a show with the winners from all the Got Talents, is announced.
season three, 2008
- All three judges and the show’s host returned for the first time.
- July: A woman smashes objects with her large breasts. Her name: Busty Heart.
- July: The show airs an audition episode with acts from MySpace and Facebook.
- August: The Las Vegas callback episodes split the acts into genre-based groups.
- October: An opera singer wins season three.
season four, 2009
- February: Jerry Springer quits as host, and Nick Cannon is hired as host. Jerry Springer later says he’d love to return.
- April: Susan Boyle shocks the world with her voice during the UK auditions, and Simon Cowell suggests auditions should be extended because of the worldwide publicity.
- May: NBC announces that MySpace auditions are again included on the show.
- July: The show remains summer’s #1 show.
- September: Kevin Skinner, a country singer, wins during the highest-rated finale ever.
- October: Jerry Springer returns to host—a 10-week Las Vegas show with season four contestants.
season five, 2010
- January: The Hoff finally quits, and Howie Mandel replaces him.
- June: Nick Cannon starts to annoy me.
- August: The show airs an episode with acts from YouTube.
- September: The show has two fascinating, unique finalists in Prince Poppycock and Fighting Gravity; three of the four finalists were recruited. Ultimately, a singer, Michael Grimm, wins.
season six, 2011
- June: The season starts with Howie Mandel and Piers Morgan sword fighting.
- August: Two judges criticize the show’s response after a flame-covered ring lands on a performer.
- September: Although there are three non-singer finalists, the one finalist who is a singer, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr, wins.
- November: Piers Morgan quits as a judge, and fan of AGT Howard Stern is rumored to replace him.
season seven, 2012
- December 2011: Howard Stern signs on, and Simon Cowell says a younger, female judge will also be added to the panel.
- April: An act that auditioned accuses the show of being rigged.
- May: The show moves to the New York area to accommodate Howard STern.
- June: An auditioner who says he was injured by a grenade in Afghanistan is called “a complete fraud” by Howard Stern after the military says there is no record of that injury.
- August: Sharon Osbourne quits the show because of NBC rejected her son, Jack, as a contestant on another show because of his M.S.
- September: An act with canines, Olate Dogs, wins.
season eight, 2013
- February: Mel B joins as a judge.
- March: Heidi Klum becomes the fourth judge.
- April: An auditioning comedian is accused by Howie Mandel of stealing his act from another comedian who happened to be in the audience.
- July: The live shows, starting with the quarter finals, move to Radio City Music Hall.
- September: A performer who dances with images of himself, Kenichi Ebina, wins.
season nine, 2014
- April: Nick Cannon is booed while faking a basketball shot during a Knicks game for an AGT bit.
- July: The episodes that narrow the field move from Las Vegas to New York City.
- September: Magician Mat Franco wins.
- November: Universal Studios, the theme park, considered adding an AGT attraction.