'America's Got Talent' hires Mel B as new judge

MEL-B

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America’s Got Talent has found its new judge.

Spice Girl Mel B (aka Melanie Brown) will join the summer reality hit’s judging panel. She’ll take a seat beside Howard Stern and Howie Mandel critiquing the show’s wild variety of performers. The pop singer has live competition show experience having served as a judge on the Australian version of The X Factor as well as guest hosted on the show’s UK version.

“I’ve known Melanie since she did Dancing with the Stars, and I’ve known her as a performer in The Spice Girls before that,” said NBC president of alternative Paul Telegdy, who was previously at Dancing production company BBC Worldwide America. “To know her is
to know a very frank, strong, enduring entertainer. Someone who has a very strong point of view. We needed somebody who was qualified for the job. She’s an amazing singer, dancer and a huge personality. The contestants will get a lot of constructive feedback from her and I can’t wait to see her chemistry with Howard and Howie.”

“Scary Spice” will replace longtime judge Sharon Osbourne, who announced she was quitting the series last year. Osbourne later said she was angry at the network for not allowing her son Jack to participate on the physically demanding NBC reality effort Stars Earn Stripes after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This will mark Stern’s second season with AGT and Mandel’s fourth.

Also, EW can exclusively report that Got Talent may not be finished hiring. NBC is considering adding a fourth judge to the talent show for the first time in its U.S. history. Having a quartet of Got Talent judges is common on overseas editions of the show. But, as Telegdy put it, “The right person has to show their hand.”

Got Talent has frequently been ranked as the summer’s highest-rated series. Last summer the show was scheduled more aggressively against stronger competition and the numbers slipped, with ratings down about 18 percent. NBC expects to return to a scheduling pattern this summer that’s benefited the show in the past. Before Got Talent returns, NBC will bring back its other major talent show, The Voice, which is undergoing some judging changes too — adding Shakira and Usher to the mix while Cee Lo and Xtina take the spring off (check out The Voice‘s official new poster here).

Telegdy just saw a first cut of the midseason premiere, which airs March 25 along with the return of Revolution. “I am extremely pleased,” the executive said. “Shakira and Usher fit right into The Voice family. Shakira is a real mysterious person and most people don’t know she’s so warm and feisty. Usher is just impressive. He will stand on his track record in terms of record sales and how to mentor contestants. He’s extremely exacting in a way that’s new to The Voice. He’s getting these people ready for the world stage. It’s an instant friendly rivalry with the new people and the old guard.”

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