The release date for America's Got Talent Season 15 has been officially revealed. NBC announced that the reality/competition series would return to the network on May 26 at 8 p.m. Judge and executive producer Simon Cowell made the announcement, which was tailored specifically to an audience that had been affected by the coronavirus.
"We are so proud to present a 15th season of America's Got Talent this summer," Simon Cowell said, according to Deadline. "This show represents the best in perseverance, creativity and optimism. At a time when families are unable to go out we really hope the new season will bring some much-needed joy and escape." It will be the first season with Sofia Vergara serving as a judge, joining Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and host Terry Crews.
The series had previously halted production in mid-March, which was a widespread practice throughout the entertainment industry as a means to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The show had initially planned on filming without a studio audience, before pulling the plug entirely after Klum was sick and was tested to see if she had COVID-19. Both she and husband Tom Kaulitz tested negative for the virus.
Vergara also joins the show in the wake of controversy after both Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough were not asked back after their one-season stints. Following their firings in November, Union vocally spoke out against America's Got Talent, singling out Cowell in particular. After refuting the charges, NBC ended up opening an investigation into both Union's and Hough's claims. The investigation was expected to end in January, although nothing has been made public since.
More recently, the show lost one of its more memorable contenders. Grandma Lee, whose stand-up sets took her all the way to the finals back in 2009, passed away on Friday at the age of 85.
"All my material is based on the truth. I go up there and wing it," she told PEOPLE 11 years ago. "But I practiced it to myself. One of my sons will help and time me and say different things. Like last night, I was going to say, 'God bless America. God save the King. Thank you Jesus.' He said, 'Don't say, thank you Jesus, you don't want to offend somebody and risk it.' I don't think it would have made a difference but I don't want to risk it."