“An amazing collection of talent and some of the most deluded people in America,” promises America's Got Talent (Tuesdays at 9 pm/ET, NBC) judge Piers Morgan, when asked what viewers can expect when Season 3 of the competition where anything goes gets underway tonight. We chatted with him about the new season, being tough on the contestants and... wrestling with Sharon Osbourne!?
TVGuide.com: America's Got Talent was kind of a surprise hit when it debuted two summers ago. What do you think is the appeal of the show?
Piers Morgan: I think it's the only show on American TV where you can be any age and have any talent at all. I think it's something the whole family can enjoy because we have people who are 90 years old taking part and even down to a 4-year-old this year. I think it's got this unpredictable, exciting quality to it, where you just have no idea what's coming next.
TVGuide.com: Perhaps more entertaining than the competition is the disagreements between you, David and Sharon…
Morgan: [Laughs] There are moments when Sharon physically wrestled me to the ground and there are moments when David completely loses his temper and wants to kill me. I think fans of the friction between us will definitely be getting their moneys worth.
TVGuide.com: Do you take special delight in riling those two up?
Morgan: To be honest, yes, I do. I wish I could pretend otherwise. I'm afraid it's a bit of a character failing in me that I wake up in the morning and think, “I know what I'll do, I'll wind up David Hassellhoff.” He is quite easy to wind up. This year, he did actually make a point of saying at the start of the audition process that there was no way he was going to rise to my baiting and there were going to be no arguments. And he did quite well until we got to Las Vegas. It's a slow burn. You'll see friction developing and then finally in Vegas it goes horribly wrong…or right, depending on your viewpoint. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: You're considered the harshest of the judges. Any chance of you going soft?
Morgan: Oh my God, no. Who wants to watch me go soft for goodness sake? If anything, I think I'm going to be tougher this year, because I felt last year we were very tough and we managed to get a brilliant winner, and that's what we're after. It's a tough business. Show business is not for the faint of heart. You need strength of character, determination, nerves of steel and the ability to take criticism. If you can do all that, then you've got a chance.
TVGuide.com: What is the best part of your job?
Morgan: When I discover that the [talent] we've backed is literally a world star. And we had it with [last year's winner] Terry Fator. He's now just signed a $100 million deal to headline in Vegas. What could be a better version of the American dream than that?
TVGuide.com: And the hardest part?
Morgan: In the semi-final stage, you're going to say goodbye to people who've got real talent. This year, we're going to be saying goodbye to some brilliant talents, [but] that's what competition is all about, tough as it is. The other tough thing is, obviously, working with Sharon and David, who are two of the most troublesome creatures in show business.
TVGuide.com: Is there anything different about the show this year?
Morgan: David's slightly madder. [Laughs] To be serious, the show just feels a lot bigger this year. We went to bigger theaters, and we had many more people audition. We all felt that this is twice as big a show as last season. We also felt the talent level had doubled from last year. There was just miles better talent and there were better train wrecks. There were a dozen people this year who did things I had never seen before in my life — and some of them I never want to see again in my life
TVGuide.com: Do you have any secret talents?
Morgan: I'm surprised you'd even have to ask the question. [Laughs] I can play the piano quite well. I can play “Let It Be” by the Beatles, but that is about it. And a Tony Blair impression.
TVGuide.com: How has winning Celebrity Apprentice affected you?
Morgan: The next time one of these acts says, “so what's your talent,” I can now say, well I won The Apprentice [Laughs]. So that's made my life easier to be honest. [And] David Hasselhoff keeps calling me [a] terrible tabloid wanker, and now I have to say, “David, I may be all that from my past, but now I'm the winner of Apprentice, so I think that makes me currently a bigger star than you,” which, as you can imagine, goes down like a lead balloon.
TVGuide.com: Maybe he'll try to compete next season…
Morgan: I would love to watch David Hasselhoff on Celebrity Apprentice, wouldn't you? Oh my God, it would be fantastic. I've been trying to get Donald Trump to sign him — I think it would be brilliant.
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