LA TIMES — “America, are you ready for the revolution?” “America’s Got Talent” host Nick Cannon asked, standing on what appeared to be a rocky mountaintop, as the NBC talent show kicked off its seventh season Monday night. The “revolution” to which Cannon was referring was presumably the show’s extremely well paid, highly controversial (before he even had a chance to do anything) new judge, Howard Stern. Of course, the self-dubbed King of All Media is no stranger himself to cheesy hyperbole and making America cringe. But it’s safe to say a lot of people – fans of “America’s Got Talent,” fans of Stern, the parenting group that’s called for an ad boycott – didn’t see how the boundary-pushing radio personality would be suitable for a family-friendly talent show: Would he, metaphorically speaking, take a hammer to “America’s Got Talent’s” delicate parts, they may have wondered? I’m guessing the new judge’s doubters weren’t those people in the audience at the Los Angeles auditions chanting “How-ward, How-ward, How-ward” in the show’s season premiere.
I had never seen AGT before Howard’s debut last night, but as a loyal subscriber to the KOAM on Sirius/XM radio, I had to see how the much anticipated buzz was going to play out. What I got was a very watchable talent show in its own right, with a dose of “Howard Lite” sprinkled in, making for a level of reality TV I hadn’t experienced since the All Star Edition of Survivor and first season of American Idol. Of course I say “Howard Lite” because his job is to judge these acts, not to act out and be judged himself. A new trick for the master innovator who just keeps fans and spectators wondering if there is a medium that he can’t conquer.