Simon Cowell will be returning not just for season 12 of America’s Got Talent next summer, but for the following two seasons, too. The network previously announced that all four judges and the show’s host—Mel B., Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, and Simon Cowell, plus host Nick Cannon—would be back next summer.
Today, NBC announced that Cowell “has signed on for three years through 2019 as a judge” on the show he also executive produces.
In the press release, NBC reality executive Paul Telegdy said, “It was terrific to see Simon in his judge’s chair this past season, bringing his unique expertise and enthusiasm to the show, night after night. His brilliance has made ‘AGT’ the industry leader that it is today and his ability to evaluate and spot talent is unmatched, so we couldn’t be happier to have him seated at the judge’s table for the next three years.”
My response to last year’s news that he was initially joining the show as judge was—well, let’s say I was not thrilled. But as it turned out, the Simon Cowell that showed up to judge AGT was not the Simon Cowell from The X Factor or the last few seasons of American Idol, the ego-driven Simon, and the complacent, lazy, and bored Simon.
Instead, what he brought to America’s Got Talent was a lighter, easier version of himself—one who continued to naively or cheekily insist that he thought magic was real, and who gamely let himself become part of several acts during the season.
When his addition to the judging panel was announced last year, Simon said he wanted to add more singers to the show—and imagine that, his wish came true! However, those singers were generally of higher quality than we’ve seen on AGT in years past, which benefitted the show. Still, I hope that dream fades, or at least the he recognizes the value in AGT not becoming American Idol.
The show worked so very well this year because of the diversity of the acts—and, yes, because of the judging panel, including Simon. They had strong chemistry. At worst, they were too exuberant, too willing to let crap slide through because they were all having a good time. But watching them enjoy themselves made for a generally enjoyable two hours of performance episodes every week.
So, I was wrong; Simon didn’t ruin America’s Got Talent at all, and might have even made it better. I hope he’ll continue to be the Simon Cowell we saw this summer, and not the follow the same arc that his previous judging stints on American television have taken.