Judge-flation has hit "America’s Got Talent."
One season after the addition of Howard Stern for a reported $20 million failed to goose the show’s ratings -- which actually fell noticeably -- NBC announced Monday its next big "AGT" idea:
Add a fourth judge.
That judge: Heidi Klum, the statuesque, wooden host of "Project Runway."
"As we look to develop an act that will get the world’s attention, we and the contestants will benefit from Heidi’s international sensibility and understanding of what works in today’s global entertainment industry," enthused NBC’s head of alternative programming, Paul Telegdy.
"Heidi Klum brings huge experience to ‘America’s Got Talent’ from her background as a model, designer, actress, TV host, producer and successful business woman," chimed in "AGT" executive producer Trish Kinane.
"America’s Got some serious Talent!" explained Klum.
The addition marks the first time the show has had a four-judge panel. Klum will join Stern and Howie Mandel, as well as fellow newcomer Mel B (a.k.a. Melanie Brown), who replaces Sharon Osbourne.
"AGT" isn’t the first competition show to feature four judges: NBC’s own "The Voice" has four, Fox’s "The X Factor" has four and Fox’s "American Idol" has tried both four and three. But it’s the first time a competition show has hired a fourth judge one season after shelling out $20 mil to hire "the king of all media"-- not to mention the cost of moving the show to New York for "KoaM’s" convenience.
This past May, about 10.5 million people tuned in to watch Stern’s debut on "AGT." That’s about 32 percent fewer viewers than the 15.3 million who watched the previous season’s debut.
Among 18- to 49-year-old viewers who are the currency of NBC’s ad sales, Stern’s unveiling came in 14 percent short of the previous season starter.
Meanwhile, former Victoria’s Secret undies model Klum cut her teeth on reality competition as a host and judge on "Project Runway," which famously moved from Bravo to Lifetime network, causing much uproar in the biz. In its most recent iteration, "Project Runway" averaged 2.5 million viewers.
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