“America’s Got Talent” fans will have to wait until Monday’s episode to learn the winner of the special “Champions” edition, but host Terry Crews already has a prize: He’ll be hosting the regular version starting this summer.
When the “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star got the opportunity to host NBC’s “Champions” (8 EST/PST), which was taped in the fall, “They told me it was a straight spinoff and I took that opportunity and then moved on. To get this chance to host the regular version, holy cow!”
Before getting to the top-rated summer show, where he succeeds Tyra Banks, Crews will announce who a panel of superfans chose as the winner from a group of 12 finalists at the end of Monday’s noncompetition finale.
The two-hour show will feature an appearance by Crews’ “Brooklyn” co-star Melissa Fumero and numerous exhibitions and surprise finalist groupings, including a performance with singers Brian Justin Crum and Cristina Ramos and the knife-throwing danger act Deadly Games.
“It was absolutely phenomenal. It will blow people’s minds,” Crews says.
The finalists, who were among 50 “Got Talent” winners and standout acts from the U.S. and international versions who began the competition, include: Deadly Games, comedian Preacher Lawson, sand artist Kseniya Simonova, sleight-of-hand artist Shin Lim, magician Jon Dorenbos, ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer, opera singer Paul Potts and singers Susan Boyle, Kechi Okwuchi, Angelica Hale, Crum and Ramos.
Crews, who’s doing double duty on NBC with “Brooklyn” (Thursday, 9 EST/PST), says he learned a lot about “AGT” hosting “Champions.”
“One of the things that always shocks me is how professional and amazing these (acts) are. They’re all winners and have proven they’re at the top of their game,” says Crews.
He says the competition reminds him of his playing days in the NFL, in that it all comes down to performance.
“Were they on their game at that moment? It’s kind of like sports, where you have a championship team but all of a sudden you’re just off that day. The good thing about the finale was that everybody brought their ‘A’ game,” he says.
Crews has enjoyed the “adrenaline rush” of contestants performing before a studio audience. That will be heightened during the summer version, which features live shows in the later rounds.
“With the live action, anything can happen. I used to get it when I hosted Fox’s and NBC’s New Year’s Eve (shows). Now, I’ll be able to do this on ‘America’s Got Talent,’” he says.
Crews, who also has hosted “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and “World’s Funniest,” says he has Banks’ blessing. “It’s all good. She’s a great friend. We’ve known each other for years.”
He will be joined on the summer version by Cowell, longtime judge Howie Mandel and two new panelists, actress Gabrielle Union and actress/dancer Julianne Hough. They will take the seats now held by Mel B and Heidi Klum.
Crews is especially happy he will be working with longtime friend Union, who had his back after he said a former agent had sexually groped him.
“She’s one of the first people ever to support me when I came out with my #MeToo story. She went public and said, ‘I support Terry Crews.’ That makes it so super-special,” he says.
Crews says it’s been important to speak out about #MeToo, including testimony before Congress, and other significant issues and that there’s room today to provide entertainment and also speak seriously.
“This is a new day. Years ago in television, everyone wanted to see you do one thing and that was it. With the advent of social media, you’re allowed to have an opinion,” says the actor/host, who was named one of Time’s 2017 Persons of the Year for breaking the silence about sexual misconduct. “For me, doing good things does not require martyrs, it requires leaders. It’s not like you decide to talk seriously and now you have to give up your career.”
Crews says he’s received great support from “Brooklyn,” “AGT” and NBC in all his activities. He’ll likely need everyone’s help next summer as he tries to juggle shooting schedules for “AGT” live shows and episodes of “Brooklyn,” which is likely to return for another season.
“That’s a great problem to have,” he says.
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