America’s Got Talentbegins May 28 on NBC. Terry Crews, star of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, hosted the AGT: The Champions edition that aired in the winter, and will host the summer run, with Tyra Banks moving on.
“Terry Crews will continue to light up the stage with his quick wit and unending charm,” Meredith Ahr, president, alternative and reality group, NBC Entertainment, said.
Crews, who shifted to television after a run in the National Football League, spoke to Multichannel News about the new season, what new judges Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough bring to the show and talents he has that viewers may not know about.
MCN:How did you end up as host?
Terry Crews: NBC decided they were going to do a spinoff of America’s Got Talent and they were looking for a host. I had a meeting with Paul Telegdy [now co-chair, NBC Entertainment], and let him know how much I wanted to be a part of anything going on host-wise.
All of a sudden I got a call and BAM! I was the host of the offshoot Champions. Tyra Banks wanted to pursue other opportunities and this all fell into place.
MCN:How does your style differ from Tyra’s?
TC: I’ve stolen all my ideas from Tyra and Nick [former AGT host Cannon]. There’s a style that’s perfect. What I realize is, if you’re not perfect, that’s actually better. If it didn’t come out right it just means you are human. People don’t watch for perfection, they tune in to see accidents. They want to see the guy fall off the wire.
I’m a big personality. I’m just being myself and not being absolutely perfect. I pop my pecs in the middle of the deal, I’ll have a laughing fit in the middle of what I’m trying to say, just be you. That’s my style.
MCN:Is there an act from the last couple years that you find yourself thinking about more than the others?
TC: One of my favorites is Preacher Lawson. He’s a super comedian. And Darci Lynne. You’re like, I don’t even know if I want to see a ventriloquist act. At first you go, eh, that’s interesting. Then you realize, holy cow, I am thoroughly entertained!
I go home after episodes and I’m like, what am I doing with my life? These people have taken the thing they do to another level and it’s inspired me.
MCN:Why does the show connect so well with viewers?
TC: Everyone sees a version of themselves. We had a comedian who faced extreme anxiety all his life and comedy was part of his therapy. I thought, look at how many people suffer from the same problem — scared to ask for directions, scared to demand something. You go, “That could be me.”
And it’s all ages. TV is only going for the 18-34 demographic. Most television has left out smaller kids and older adults. AGT is literally for everybody.
MCN:What do the new judges bring to the show?
TC: I’ve been a friend and fan of Gabrielle Union’s for the longest time. Talent recognizes talent. If you’re a famous artist, you recognize the talent in a musician or a dancer. Gabrielle is a brilliant actress who has shown her talent over the years. She gives the best advice to acts that can take it to the next level.
Julianne was a prodigy on her own. At 10, she moved to London to study dance. You’re talking about one of the best dancers in the world! She knows about being a child star. She’s seen fame and success at a very young age. She’s got a beat on what it takes. The stuff she gives [contestants], you’re just like, oh man, they need to hear this, it’s so, so good.
MCN:If you were to go on as a contestant, what would you do?
TC: I would probably paint something as fast as I could. I’d probably paint and play the flute at the same time, just to show people — hey, he’s got a double thing. I’d be one of those acts that’s so bad it’s good. America would demand me back. We wanna see that flute-playing artist guy that did it shirtless!
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.