"America's Got Talent" returns for its fifth season tonight with a group of hot new performers from across the country ready to compete in front of the judging panel: Sharon Osbourne, Piers Morgan and new judge Howie Mandel, who is replacing David Hasselhoff, who has moved on to his own reality series for A&E.
"Howie is unbelievably quick and funny," Sharon tells ET. But that doesn't mean she isn't missing David, who she says "brought a lot of heart" to the judging. "Of course, I miss David. He is a great guy. He is a really good person and I miss him," she says.
In addition to the new judge, for season five "AGT" has added one complete show that is going to be dedicated to YouTube acts, and this year in the finals, only four acts will compete, so the jeopardy level is higher than before.
Howie may be new to judging the show, but he has been a fan for the past four seasons.
" I don't think they're changing it up because I'm a judge. There are comedians on, but I think the beauty of this show, that it's an open forum for everything, and what I love about this show is you can be a singer, you can be a dancer, you can be a mime, or you can have a troupe. I am seeing things that I can't even put under a category. It's not dance. It's not music. It's just incredibly unique."
To date, only ventriloquist Terry Fator has gone on to be come a household name and has become a Las Vegas headliner at the Mirage Resort and Casino. But Sharon says it isn't about making stars, but changing lives.
"The situation is if you can get another Terry Fator in the next five years, apart from that, the people who do come through, their lives change totally because a lot of them manage to earn their living now doing something they love, which is to entertain," she says. "So to go from a day job and have a dream, their dreams come true and it takes them to a better place in their life. So that's an amazing thing to do for somebody, to be able to earn your living at something which you love."
"America's Got Talent" returns for its fifth season tonight with a two-hour premiere from 8 to 10 p.m, followed onby a Wednesday, June 2 edition from 9 to 10 p.m.