America's Got Talent Resumes Production on Season 15 With Major Changes, Including Fewer Judge Cuts

America's Got Talent Coronavirus

For America’s Got Talent, returning to production in the midst of a global pandemic means making some major changes — and some significant cuts.

The NBC reality competition series has resumed production on its 15th season, our sister site Deadline reports, having only completed six audition episodes before temporarily shutting down over the threat of coronavirus in March.

The first thing viewers will notice is the dramatic change of venue. Whereas AGT is traditionally filmed in a lavish Hollywood auditorium, the show is now relocating to an outdoor setup in Simi Valley that’s designed to resemble a drive-in movie theater. The judges — Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and newcomer Sofia Vergara — will also sit an appropriate distance from one another. (“Wait until you see the vehicles the judges arrive in,” the show’s executive producers tell Deadline.)

Another major change is that there will only be one Judge Cuts episode this season (July 28), as opposed to the usual four. NBC is also peppering its schedule with a best-of special (July 21) and an anniversary celebration (Aug. 4) to accommodate the shift in production.

This season’s live shows — which will find 44 acts performing across four weeks — are scheduled to begin on Aug. 11. And while producers are hoping to return to the Dolby Theatre, nothing has been nailed down just yet. It’s also being discussed how to potentially include a physical or virtual audience in the mix.

Cowell says he’s excited about the changes, especially because he feels that the Judge Cuts kill the momentum built by the high-energy Auditions. “I personally now would stick to this new way we’ve done it not just for the present but for the future,” he tells Deadline. “I think it is a better show this year than it has been on previous years.”

The last episode of AGT that was filmed before the pandemic airs tonight at 8/7c on NBC. What do you think of the changes mentioned above? Drop a comment with your thoughts on the future of Season 15 below.

GET MORE: Reality TV