Today's cuppa: PG Tips tea (that's British, BTW)

Americas_Got_Talent_Logo Last night, I headed over to the very same studio where CBS used to tape the musical reality-competition show "Rock Star"  to see a live performance of NBC's music-and-more reality-competition show "America's Got Talent." 

In addition to the 12 live performances, the audience was also treated to a performance — being taped to air later — by the rap act LMFAO, doing "I'm in L.A.,Trick."

Apparently, the duo is a real rap group, not a couple of Juilliard students punking us, as I began to think during the two run-throughs of the song. Not helping were the female dancers, gyrating their way through something that definitely doesn't belong in the family hour. But you'll see and judge for yourselves whether those hang-below-the-butt zebra pants are ever a good idea.

But I digress.

Before the show, I got to sit down with judge Piers Morgan, who's been a good pal to HCTV — Americas_Got_Talent_Piers_Morgan click here and here to read previous posts featuring him — and here are a few of his thoughts on the competition so far, now that we're in the live, Top 40 phase.

But first, we talked about a contestant in the other show where Morgan is a talent judge, ITV's "Britain's Got Talent."

Back in July, the White House changed the time of a live press conference by President Obama because NBC wasn't about to pre-empt its planned interview that night on "America's Got Talent" with "Britain's Got Talent" runner-up — and worldwide YouTube sensation — Susan Boyle.

Asked what he thought about that, Morgan said, "I think the president made a very sensible decision. You can always have a press conference with the president, but how many times is Susan Boyle going to be on 'America's Got Talent'?

"It showed, yet again, the extraordinary power of the Susan Boyle phenomenon. I can't think of anyone else that would have caused that situation to have happened, but it shows me that Susan has a very special place in the American public's hearts and psyche, and that they cannot get enough of her.

"NBC looked at it and said, 'You know what, America wants to see Susan.'"

Boyle had a rough patch right after coming in second on "BGT," requiring a retreat paid for by American_Idol_Simon_Cowell "BGT" judge and executive producer Simon Cowell, who's now got Boyle under contract.

"Simon does have a heart," Morgan said. "You have to dig deep, but it's there, lurking."

Asked how Boyle is doing now, Morgan said, "She's great. She did great in the interview. She's in the recording studio, Britains_Got_Talent_Susan_Boyle making an album, apparently going very well.

"She looked great in Harper's Bazaar. She had a bit of a meltdown in the show, at the time, but as I said at the time, she's fine. It's just all the attention was getting to her, tiring her out.

"Once she had a chance to get away, relax, get her head straight again, she's what she was before, a bright, feisty lady."

And, she's a lady who just may have brought a hint of a tear to the eye of Cowell, who's an off-camera producer on "AGT" but is famous for his sharp critiques on Fox's "American Idol."

"I think he probably just got something stuck in his eye,"
Morgan quipped. "It's probably one of those allergic reations to Botox."

On this side of the pond, the biggest YouTube sensation so far to come out of this year's "AGT" competition is country-singing chicken-catcher Kevin Skinner, who made a big splash with his surprising audition.

"The chicken hunter's the only one who's had more than a million hits on YouTube," Morgan said. "Kevin was the star of the show last week, I thought, and he won half the vote. He sang another Garth Brooks song."

Americas_Got_Talent_Kevin_Skinner But it wasn't a perfect performance, according to Morgan.

"What you saw with Kevin last week — he was hit by nerves. That's what you get at this stage in the competition. When it goes live, they get nervous.

"He did brilliant to hold it together, but it wasn't his best performance. What I like best about the structure of the show this year, we're going to see him sing again and again. There'll be a few more performances from him.

"He's got a sweet, innocent, lovely way of performing, which has really captured people's imaginations. He's not trying to be anyone. He just does his thing. It's like he's in the bar, and he's got his guitar out, and he's just singing. He's got a sweet voice, and I think he's got a great chance of winning."

If you saw last night's show, you know there were some standout performances — such as Paradizo Dance, Voices of Glory, Charles DeWayne, the Fab Five (who had one less jet of flame around them than intended) and the Texas Tenors — and a few more that got buzzed (and that buzzer is LOUD live).

Prior to last night's show, the previous week had bummed Morgan out the most.

"The return of the seven-foot, yodeling dominatrix,"
he said, "who came back as a five-foot-five Lucille Ball lookalike. That was one of the most shocking and disappointing things I have ever seen in my life.

"Seriously, from a seven-foot, leather-clad dominatrix, she comes back with no leather, she'd lost a foot and a half of height, and she's got a silly blond wig. It was crazy, bitterly Americas_Got_Talent_Manuela_Horn disappointing."

To be fair, Manuela Horn did look different from her audition when she returned for her second performance, but she only went from seven feet to something closer to her natural six-foot-two.

Seemed to me last night that Morgan was equally dismayed to see Alizma, the fiddle-playing trio of blondes, transformed into go-go-booted quasi-strippers. I know I was.

Regarding whether Susan Boyle will ever actually sing on "America's Got Talent," Morgan said, "We'll have to see. Simon will decide. He's the boss."

Then asked if he's a better judge than he used to be, Morgan emphatically answered, "Yes."

But as to whether he's a better judge than Cowell, Morgan said, "Am I a better judge than Simon? No one's a better judge than Simon. Is that a diplomatic answer? We all bow at His Lordship's feet.

"I've learned a lot from Simon, actually. When I do the 'Britain's Got Talent' show, I learn a lot from him on how you should judge these things, because you can be brutal, as long as you're being brutally honest and critiquing the performance. When you get too gratuitous about people's appearance or stuff like that, you're missing the point."

Posted by:Kate O'Hare