10 Reasons America’s Got Talent is totally fake
NBC’s America’s Got Talent claims it’s trying to find the best talent in the country, but is the show as real as it says? Over the years, like practically every other reality-competition show out there, America’s Got Talent has faced everything from allegations that the competition is rigged to accusations that it’s not quite as genuine as it comes across on the small screen, some of which came from former contestants. Here are 10 instances in which America’s Got Talent has been accused of being totally fake.
1.The show doesn’t always check contestants’ backstories
America’s Got Talent ran into a serious fact-checking problem in season 7 when contestant Timothy Poe’s sob story about being a war veteran fell apart. Poe initially told the show that he learned how to sing to help get over a stutter he developed after being hit with a grenade in Afghanistan. After his auditioned aired, however, reports quickly came out alleging his story was totally false. Even worse, the photo the show used of him from Afghanistan turned out to be of another soldier.
This led Poe to give a tearful apology on a local news station, although he insisted at the time he didn’t think he actually lied. Uh, okay.
2.The show allegedly reserves the right to exaggerate contestants’ backstories.
While Poe’s story is the most obvious example of a false contestant backstory, it’s possible that other contestants’ personal stories have been exaggerated, as well—at least according to excerpts from the book Inside AGT: The Untold Stories of America’s Got Talent obtained by Radar Online. “In exchange for being seen by millions of viewers each week, everyone must agree that producers can trick, exploit and embarrass them—and even depict their personal stories in a manner that ‘may be factual or fictional’—and they can’t sue for any reason,” the book alleges.
3.They allegedly use contestants to manipulate other contestants
Also in Inside AGT, season 2 runner-up Cas Haley alleged that, during the audition process, he and others in his green room were manipulated by producers into getting a young female contestant to cry on camera. “We were all in the green room, waiting to go out and perform and there was this young girl from Hawaii who was with her mom,” he said in excerpts obtained by Radar Online. “She went out and auditioned and while she was out there, a producer came back to the holding room and told us, ‘OK, she made it, let’s give her a big hand when she comes back in here.’ So, of course, we all cheered for her when she came through the door and she just burst into tears.”
“It turns out she didn’t actually make it, they just told us that so we’d cheer and they’d get reaction out of her,” Haley continued to allege. “That was the first time I realized I couldn’t trust these people. [The show is] not what people think. It’s all for ratings. That’s what they’re looking for.”
4.Jokes are allegedly pre-screened
According to Inside AGT (via Radar Online), several of the show’s comedic acts may not get to tell the jokes they actually want to when they finally hit the stage. “Several comedic acts told the book that they were required to submit their jokes to the producers in advance to make sure they cleared network standards and didn’t clash with the show’s family friendly values,” the book claims. Pre-screened and potentially watered-down jokes? Now, that’s no laughing matter.
5.Many of the performers are actually recruited
Although the show makes a big deal out of its audition process, reports from a former contestant allege that many of the acts that end up making it far are recruited by America’s Got Talent producers before the show even begins.
“Some are discovered on YouTube, others in comedy clubs and performance venues,” season two country singer Julienne Irwin told Inside AGT (via Radar Online). “When I made it to the Top 20, I couldn’t believe I was the only one that really came from an open call audition. I was the only one that hadn’t been a professional performer.”
6.Contestants allegedly don’t have final say on what they perform
While the show makes it seem like contestants’ performances are entirely up to them, some reports claim that the producers actually have a big hand in determining what contestants do on stage. In fact, producers allegedly work with acts and often have the final say in what the contestants get to perform, according to Inside AGT.
One possible example of this came via season eight contestant Special Head, who posted a video on YouTube of an act America’s Got Talent wouldn’t allow him to perform after he was eliminated in the second round. In the comments section, he went on to claim that “all reality shows are actually scripted.” “The producers decide when it’s time to get kicked off the show,” he wrote (via Wizbang Pop!). “And because people love certain characters the show has to justify kicking them off. The levitation on the pyramid is what they had me do instead. That says a lot.”
7.Contestants are reportedly subjected to grueling schedules
Some former contestants have given insight into the show’s grueling, boot camp-like schedule, which can allegedly begin around 5AM and run until about 9 or 10PM. According to season four contestant Damien Escobar (via Radar Online), contestants were kept in a holding room “forever” until it was time for them to rehearse, only to have to wake up incredibly early the next day and do it all over again. “They kept us in this holding area forever, like 19 hours, until it was our time to rehearse. We’d get about four hours of sleep and be up at 5:00 AM to do it all over again,” he said.
Escobar also alleges that there was a nurse on set to give them shots of Vitamins B and K, as well as a therapist backstage to ensure their mental health was up to par. At that rate, it’s no wonder everyone on the show cries.
8.The audience is allegedly filled with plants
In a post on LiveJournal, user whipchick documented her experience auditioning on America’s Got Talent, alleging that the audience is filled with plants who help to teach the rest of the audience when to boo and when to cheer, based on the acts that the producers like. She said she discovered this after reconnecting with her mother after her audition was over. “We [learned] that the audience was seeded with plants, paid to be there, knowing who wins, the locals who lined up for tickets instructed, ‘If someone next to you jumps up or makes an X, you do it, too!’ Knowing that the contest and the voting and the judging is rigged, I don’t know why it surprises me so much that the audience is rigged, too.”
9.The rest of the audience is allegedly coached
In her post, user whipchick continues to allege that the audience is coached on when to boo and when to cheer for acts. According to her, there was a white sign held by a crewman on stage right, which was the cue for the audience to boo.
One Reddit commenter who says they were a guest on the show seemed to confirm allegations that some audience reactions aren’t real, saying that shots of the crowd cheering, booing and making “X” signs with their hands are filmed beforehand and then edited into the broadcast.
10.Producers are reportedly allowed to determine the winner “by any means they choose”
According to user whipchick, the contract for the show states that the producers “reserve the right to determine the winner by any means they choose.” Contrary to this, though, a season 10 America’s Got Talent employee said in a Reddit AMA that the votes are not rigged and are regulated. However, he did acknowledge that producers have their favorites and will “prep future stuff” in case they make it to the finals.
So, it’s possible, then, we’re either dealing with the little guy fighting the big man—or just a bunch of bitter contestants who didn’t get what they wanted.