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A Tale of Two Brits - August 25

Before I start this article, I would like to congratulate Bianca Ryan for winning America's Got Talent. She won this tournament for two reasons. #1. She was by far the most talented in the finals, and #2. She did not have to compete against magician Nathan Burton, who surely won more than a million dollars worth of publicity when he got himself all of that television time.

It's obvious, however, that Nathan Burton should have been in the finals. Chances are that even if he didn't win the million, he would have at least placed himself in the Top Three and won himself a pair of wheels. Why didn't Nathan get there - or more importantly, why did acts such as The Miller Brothers and Celtic Spring get there instead? There is one answer to this - Piers Morgan.

Piers Morgan is the obligatory cranky judge on America's Got Talent. Although other shows have proven that you don't need a cranky judge (such as Dancing With The Stars), almost every other show, seeing the success of Simon Cowell on American Idol insists on getting the mean old judge. Only Nashville Star seemed to make it work. Every other show (the main culprit of this being Star Search) has a judge that winds up being either Simon-lite or way too mean and out there.

Let's face it. There is only one Simon Cowell. What makes him so good at what he does is very simple, yet he's the only one that masters it. He follows one rule, and makes it stick - you can savage the performance, but not the performer. He may attack the performer, calling something karaoke or 'Cruise Ship Singer' or a hideous song choice. He may even attack the appearance of the contestant - the hair, or the clothing. He may even call you the worst singer in America.

But the one thing he will not do is attack you as a person. He will not call you anything to personally hurt your feelings. And he certainly won't call you dumb, like he did to David of Quick Change. Now granted, David created his own downfall by going after Piers, and maybe he is hilariously arrogant, but as a judge, you do not go after a performer personally - and you certainly do not take any back stage feelings you have against the performer and include that
in your judging, something that Piers certainly did.

One of my biggest complaints in talent show judging is that America loves the underdog. Tears and sympathy will get votes. In American Idol, it worked for both Nikki McKibbin and Jasmine Trias. You can always move further in a competition if you are likable.

Now both Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan have inadvertently advanced people through their respective competitions due to their negative feedback. The formats, however, differ greatly. In American Idol, tears can only get you through an extra week, and 95% of the time, thanks to the Chaos Theory, you are going to be booted off of the show the next week. AGT, however, is different only because the sympathy vote not only gets you past a week, it will get you straight
to the Finals...or better.

Why does Nathan not make the finals? Because he gets knocked out by Quick Change in the Wild Card. Nathan came in second, while Quick Change, spurred on by Piers calling David dumb, sneaks out past Nathan to grab the final coveted spot.

Ironically enough, the reason why Quick Change needed to get to the finals by using the Wild Card can also be traced to Piers. In their preliminary round, Quick Change comes in second to...Celtic Spring, who gets the bonus votes thanks to Piers decimating the family by telling them that they should leave the kids out of the act. In this case, I happened to agree with Piers, but the way that he said it made the little kids cry. Going back to the 'America votes on
Tears' mantra, how aren't you going to get sympathy votes from crying kids? The answer is that you are, and hence, a Celtic Spring group that didn't sound great (and only landed in the Middle of the Pack in the finals) beats out an amazing magic act, who in turn also uses Piers's comments to get themselves in the finals.

So thanks to Piers Morgan, instead of the best groups getting into the finals, we have instead Nathan Burton out while two groups that did not make the Top 4 in the finals in. All we need (and can hope for) is Simon Cowell telling Piers, 'You are the Worst Talent Judge in America'.

Gordon Pepper feasts on the tears of the insolent
. E-mail Gordon at


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