World’s Best variety competition offers some retreads with new acts


The TNT Boys are a vocal trio from the Philippines competing on CBS reality series “The World’s Best.”
Courtesy CBS

PASADENA, Calif. — “The World’s Best,” which CBS is launching with a high-profile post-Super Bowl slot, touts its plan to introduce talent from around the world to the U.S. viewers.

“World’s Best” doesn’t “want (acts) to appear anywhere else before they do our show,” executive producer Alison Holloway told the Television Critics Association Tuesday. 

But it turns out some have.

 TNT Boys, a trio of young singers from the Philippines, perform Beyonce’s “Listen” in the CBS variety competition’s premiere, but viewers of NBC’s “Little Big Shots” (which Holloway also produces) already saw them perform the song last April.

An extended trailer released this week also features Earth Harp performer William Close, who made the finals in 2012 on “America’s Got Talent,” the NBC variety hit “World’s Best” seeks to challenge. And contortionist Jordan McKnight competed on “AGT” in 2015. 

“All our talent on our show see this as a truly life-changing opportunity,” Holloway proclaimed of their stint on the “The World’s Best.” 

Reality shows are prone to borrowing. But repeat performers from other American shows are exceptions among the 40 acts on “World’s Best,” insisted executive producer Mike Darnell, who in a follow-up interview said Holloway “misspoke.” 

“Once in a while, if something hits us that’s so big that it’s undeniable,” an act that’s been on U.S. TV could appear on “World’s Best,” said Darnell, who also oversees “Little Big Shots” as president of Warner Bros. unscripted and alternative programming.

He claims TNT Boys have matured since their “Little Big Shots” appearance and are substantially different performers.

“They have gotten enormously talented, and so we couldn’t deny them a moment on this show,” he said.

“World’s Best” premieres Sunday sometime after 10 EST/7 PST.

More: ‘World’s Best’ takes on ‘AGT’ variety format, with a CBS Super Bowl boost

And even if 8 or 9 million viewers saw the act on “Little Big Shots,” he says, the “vast majority” of the Super Bowl audience that CBS hopes to attract will be new.

Other acts (apparently new to U.S. viewers) on the post-Super Bowl premiere of “World’s Best,” which is hosted by James Corden, include the Taekwondo troupe, Kukkiwon (South Korea); singer Mongolian Cowboy (from, naturally, Mongolia); Manami Ito, The Miracle Violinist (Japan); escape artist and magician Matt Johnson (Great Britain); and sword swallower and chainsaw juggler Space Cowboy (Australia).

James Corden hosts; Faith Hill, Drew Barrymore and RuPaul Charles are the judges on the series, which moves to Wednesdays Feb. 6. 


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