Thompson will be taking over from singer and American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson, who subbed in for Cowell on the first few live shows of AGT. Cowell is currently in the hospital, as the 60-year-old reportedly broke his back on August 8. The reality TV show judge fell off an electric bike while out riding with his son, and underwent surgery. According to People, Cowell had to have a few spinal fusions and metal rod inserted into his back. People’s source said that the injuries were “bad” but “he was lucky." The judge reportedly can still walk.
The season 15 live show comes after a bout of controversy, in which former judge Gabrielle Union revealed the problematic behind-the-scenes environment. Union revealed on Variety the extent of the "toxicity" she faced in her time on AGT. The actress thought that the show would be a place that valued diversity, but instead felt mistreated. She claimed to have gotten sick after constantly inhaling cigarette smoke from Cowell and received criticism about her hairstyles being "too Black”. She felt “othered” when she spoke to management about her concerns, and was eventually fired from the show.
An internal investigation into the show concluded that while the show “demonstrated an overall culture of diversity,” the processes for reporting “could be improved.” Hopefully, the show has grown since the incident and Thompson’s experience will be better — we could definitely use a few more laughs right now.
America's Got Talent airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays (at 8 p.m. ET) on NBC, and the finale will air on September 23.