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The "America's Got Talent" Story
America's Got Talent
Painted in 02 / 2012
11 " x 14" - Acrylic on Canvas

Howard Stern Dazzles at America's Got Talent

It was a gorgeous February day in California to travel down to Los Angeles to see NBC-TV's filming of their summer television production: America's Got Talent! My car service took me past all the Federal Buildings, past store fronts as numerous cheap garments hung carelessly on racks on the sidewalk, in front of the Mom and Pop stores, and past the Diamond District to the final destination of The Orpheum Theater on Broadway.

The car service pulled to the very front of the very old Orpheum Theater. I got out right in front of a corded off area, and behind that stood men and women of all ages lined up from 8th Street down Broadway to 9th Street, and around the corner. This is, indeed, the old theater district of downtown Los Angeles. There are many abandoned movie theaters (which to me is rather sad that they're being used for other purposes). I noticed almost immediately that there was a V.I.P. Line, and other Security types all around drifting in and out of the theater and back out onto the sidewalk. It was at that sight which made me decide that I was not going to be left standing for any length of time.

So, without hesitation, I found myself right back in my old producer days spitting out my demands. To my surprise I was given V.I.P. Status immediately, treated like a fragile glass sculpture, and personally escorted by both a bodyguard and several security people to my seat. My information was carefully plugged into a computer by security at a table just for that purpose.

The ornate, gold embossed walls and ceilings of the Orpheum Theater were etched in elaborate designs. The television producer who sat next to me commented on the interior, and we soon struck up a television shop type conversation. We exchanged business cards, and he brought me up-to-date of the happenings of Howard Stern in the years since I left New York City. Mitch, the charming producer, told me about Howard Stern's Chauffeur, Ron. Several of the young men, who had stood silent on the street, were now shouting out "Howard", "Howard we love you!" Howard stood up several times to throw kisses in response to the adoring audience. Several shouts were "Ron…, why don't you look this way?" "Ron..., you are hiding behind the body guard. Why don't you look at us?" A young woman, at one point shouted out, "Howard, my boyfriend LOVES you!" I shouted back, "...and YOU do too!"

At various points the audience was allowed to boo, or applaud, or cross their arms in the sign of an "X" ... to show displeasure of the various performers on the stage for the America's Got Talent Auditions. Seated in front of the stage was a carefully draped rectangular table, and behind that, the 3 chairs that were placed there for Howie (Mandel), Sharon (Osborne), and Howard (Stern). Periodically, between set-ups for the talent or the break-down of equipment or "flats" (scenery) both Sharon and Howard were daubed with touch up makeup. Howard, of course was pampered by 2 females with both makeup, and hair adjustments (to excess, I might add). Howie, on- the-other-hand did not seem to want or need touch-up makeup.

My producer friend told me that the lights are no longer as hot as used to be in the old days because "cool" lights are used. The colored light bulbs, once so cheap, that are part of the set design, are now very expensive, but were attractive with blue, and magenta, that framed stage right and left. The logo of "America's Got Talent" is centered on the backdrop and can be manipulated by computer from the Technical Room" or "TD Room" as it's sometimes referred to. By the way, the "TD Room" wasn't that at all. Instead, there was a drape hung from rods surrounding the editing equipment placed in an area temporarily without seats in that section of the theater to the right of the first floor. At times, you could hear the sounds of "In-Camera Editing" being done and communications from the shadows behind the panels of charcoal grey. It was at points distracting for the audience, but later the noise ceased as one act followed another.

Sometimes, Howard Stern turned in his seat to face his audience full of fans with big smiles as they shouted out his name. Many poked fun at Howard's Chauffeur, Ron. My producer friend then explained that Ron, would have a "Reality Series", and was more paranoid than ever. Howard has found his latest personality, or lack of, to create comedy around.

I must say that Howie Mandell, was very reserved, and repeatedly gave Howard every opportunity to expand on his humor during the judging of the performances. Sharon Osborne was able to add to the humor and equaled the two well-known comics even if the judging was at odds. Many times, the appearances by the talent were judged from personal experience by the three celebrity judges. They responded to the Patriotic emotion when it came to a Marine's rap performance. He had served in Iraq. Later, Nick Cannon, the Host, with a noticeably weaker voice from two recent hospitalizations, carried the Marine's crying baby on stage. The judges then decided to pass him through to the next round of competition in Las Vegas.

When it came to the 2 tiny 6-year-olds (not together), one who danced and one who played piano, Howard was gentle in his judging. Howie and Howard both questioned the tiny little girls, knowing full well that appearances in Las Vegas were impossible. All the judges knew that the talented, but very young girls could not compete against the adult talent for the ultimate million dollar prize. Howie asked one of the girls, what did she think she could win? The tiny little girl replied, "Oh, I guess $100.00 dollars?" Howie explained, "No, it would be thousands of dollars... etc., etc."

The sentimental factor, and not always talent, was the order of the day. In fact, the audience greatly influenced the judges, who were thoughtful, kind, and humorous. It was a good start to the 7th Season of America's Got Talent. Check your local NBC-TV listings.


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