Simon Cowell took to the stage to beg his fellow judges to keep a cute dog act in the running during Tuesday’s episode of America’s Got Talent.
The 57-year-old usually tough judge was stunned when Howie Mandel told Sara Carson and her dog Hero that he ‘didn’t see one amazing trick’ during their pirate-themed act.
He then looked horrified when Mel B agreed, giving a second no that would have sent home the dog who had jumped over and under his trainer’s sword to Simon’s delight.
To the rescue: Simon Cowell took to the stage during Tuesday’s episode of America’s Got Talent to lobby on behalf of a dog act
Simon initially went on the defensive, arguing with his fellow judges by insisting: ‘I’ve never seen a dog have a sword fight with his owner before!
‘I felt Hero was almost singing along with the music. So I don’t think they quite understood what you just did, but maybe now I’ve explained it…’
When they stuck to their guns, Simon shocked them by running up onstage and — after hugging a tearful Sara — begged his fellow judges to have a change of heart.
‘I’ve never done this before, but I’m asking you — on behalf of Sara and Hero — Mel?’ he pleaded the former Spice Girl, before adding: ‘Both of you. Trust me on this, I saw something you didn’t see.’
Getting emotional: Sara got emotional as Howie Mandel and Mel B voted against her routine
Pirate them: The dog act featured a pirate theme with Sara and Hero in a sword fight
Good dog: Hero jumped between Sara’s arms as she held a sword
With Simon giving pleading looks, Sara in tears and the audience cheering in support of the act, Howie finally gave in to the pressure and changed his answer to a yes — allowing Sara and Hero to go through to the next round with a yes from Heidi Klum, too.
Sara gave Simon a hug as she said ‘thank you so much,’ with Howie telling him as he returned to his seat: ‘How could I say no to you?’
As Sara, still in tears, went offstage, new host Tyra Banks told her: ‘You have two heroes in your life right now.’
The host: Tyra Banks liked the dog act
Sword fight: Hero held a sword in his mouth at the end of the performance
When she asked how she felt, Sara admitted: ‘I feel really emotional!’
Earlier, she had insisted that Hero had saved her life after she fell into a deep depression when members of her military family ‘went as far as cutting me out of their lives completely’ because they did not think training dogs was a real job.
‘I took it really hard,’ she explained. ‘There were days where I didn’t really even want to get out of bed in the morning and I just gave up.
Life saver: Sara told how her dog Hero had saved her life
‘In that really dark time I met my dog Hero. I knew it was meant to be and he would give me a purpose again. If it wasn’t for Hero I probably wouldn’t be here right now.’
Simon was also at odds with his fellow judges when it came to bizarre comic acrobats Sirqus Alfon – but this time trying to buzz off the act the others all loved.
The performers, who put on fake Russian accents, had the other judges laughing as they laid down on the floor with their image displayed on the screen to look like they were doing acrobatics on a screen.
Acrobatic act: Sirqus Alfon performed their acrobatic routine
Big screen: The performers were shown on a screen balancing as they moved on the floor
Simon had tried to buzz them off, then asked at the end: ‘Was that a joke? That was, I’m not kidding you, the worst act we’ve had on this year.’
‘You just do not get it,’ Mel insisted, telling the performers: ‘You kept everyone entertained, bar one. I get it, he doesn’t. You guys are great!’
Howie likened them to the Three Stooges as Simon branded them the Three Stupids, with Howie saying as the act went through: ‘That was so funny! And what makes it even funnier is how much you hate it.’
Not amused: Simon did not get the acrobats and buzzed them
The latest round of auditions also had Mel and Simon attacking each other throughout, with Mel throwing two cups of drink over him after he said to her at one point: ‘Mel I don’t think you get enough credit — you were successful without being able to dance.’
Mel was also angry when Simon ran over to press her buzzer to stop her listening to her own Spice Girls hit Wannabe that someone was dancing to, and they also made cat noises while each other tried to speak just to cause annoyance.
Simon even went as far as creating a ridiculous over-the-top story to paint Mel as a villain, telling the others backstage: ‘When I first met Mel I was with a kid who was an orphan and she was a Spice Girls fan and I said, ”Would you give her an autograph?” — and she kicked her. And then laughed.’
Running feud: Mel B again tossed her drink at Simon after he mocked her dancing
‘Oh. My God,’ Mel said, denying it and looking annoyed.
The bickering banter was so bad the others teased them that they were really flirting, with Howie asking: ‘Have you guys had a thing?’
‘No!’ Mel asked, with Howie now asking: ‘Did you make out with Simon?’
Good question: Howie asked if the bickering banter between Mel and Simon was flirting
‘She’s thought about it,’ Simon quipped, with Mel initially laughing before adding sternly: ‘No.’
Supermodel Heidi, meanwhile, became the centerpiece of an amazing digital art display, donning a skin-tight white bodysuit that computer images were flashed up on — including the faces of the other judges.
Howie initially teased her that she looked like ‘she’s a little teapot,’ before telling her before she went to change again: ‘That’s a nice outfit, I would keep that on.’
Lady in white: Heidi Klum wore a skin-tight white bodysuit to help out an act
After Heidi ran off, Howie joked to the others: ‘She’s gotta get into shape.’
Three guys had taken to the stage to introduce the act, claiming the real artists, twins Oscar and Gaspar, ‘have never been seen in public before.’
When the judges asked if they would meet them, one of the men said: ‘You are going to meet their vision. They are going to try to turn a human body into something magical.’
Digital display: Digital images were displayed on Heidi’s body
‘It was so creative, so phenomenal, I could have watched that for much longer,’ Howie insisted, while Simon called it ‘sensational.’
‘I think it’s the most original, most beautiful, incredible thing I’ve seen on this show to date,’ he insisted, turning to Heidi and telling her: ‘And you were a part of it! You were the perfect model.’
Heidi — who obviously had not been able to see anything as she was the ‘display’ — got the audience to cheer to help her decide to give the fourth yes needed to send the act through.
Cool projections: The judges and audience were impressed with the digital projections
Howie had also been a key part of an act — but one he joked that he wants to forget.
He had been pulled up onstage to help magician Vinnie Grasso, 41, with a card trick — only for the magician to strip completely naked to show he was not wearing a wire.
Howie saw everything as Vinnie stood behind a small stand to hide his private parts from the audience.
Magic trick: Howie was called up to help magician Vinnie Grasso with his routine
‘If people are just tuning in now, it’s not what it looks like,’ Howie joked from the stage, adding after Vinnie turned around for him: ‘I can’t unsee that.’
Howie then tapped his chosen card on Vinnie’s tongue after he also taped shut his eyelids, with the magician claiming to have correctly guessed the card thanks to his ‘mutant-like’ sense of taste.
Tyra had also gone to the back of the stage to check that Vinnie was fully naked, with the contestant telling her afterward: ‘Sorry you had to see that Tyra.’
Too much: The judge got an eyeful from Vinnie
But Heidi asked him: ‘Why didn’t you pick Mel or I? I like to see things close up.’
‘You were charming, you were funny, you made us laugh. I thought you did a fantastic job,’ she then told him, with Simon also joking: ‘I was going to say I want to see more of you, but I take that back. But I do want to see you in the next round.’
‘I’ve seen too much tonight,’ Howie joked, before admitting: ‘You’re really funny and you’re different and I’m going to remember you.’
Next round: The judges moved magician Vinnie to the next round
One of the night’s highlights came when Johnny Manuel had almost all the audience on its feet with his stunning high notes on Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing.
‘This is a jaw-dropping moment on America’s Got Talent,’ Howie insisted, while Mel told him: ‘Oh. My. Gosh. You are so powerful. I know you’ve had a journey getting here, but thank you, thank you, thank you for showing up.’
‘I love that shy little Johnny is really a diva,’ Simon smiled, adding: ‘You are somebody who can nail and sell a song.’
Powerful voice: Johnny Manuel got for yes votes after belting out Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing
Earlier Johnny recalled how as a child he had seemed destined for superstardom and was recording and backing up Lil Bow Wow and NSYNC.
‘At the time I felt like my life could not get any better. And then all of a sudden I was just dropped,’ he recalled. ‘It went from a take-off, whirlwind experience, to right back home to my parents’ house. I literally just locked myself away in my room depressed.
‘I’ve been building back towards my dream for years. This could be my moment.’
High praise: Mel praised Johnny after his performance
But the singing group The Masqueraders had an even more amazing backstory — living out the dream they started almost 60 years ago when they met in high school in the late 1950s.
They had sung background vocals for Bobby Womack, Wilson Pickett, and the Box Tops and even had a hit in 1968.
But they said it changed when Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, where they were based, with one band member saying it got so dangerous the record company told them: ‘We can’t be responsible for you, we’re going to send you home.’
Together again: The Masqueraders were back chasing singing dreams from their teenage days
‘We still dreaming,’ one said, adding: ‘America’s Got Talent could be the catalyst to get back to where we wanted to go.’
After their soulful version of the Sam Cooke classic A Change Is Gonna Come, with its suitable refrain of ‘a long time a-coming,’ Heidi told them: ‘Never stop dreaming! I love you guys. That is what America’s Got Talent is all about — anyone can be on the stage.’
‘I think you are the new Boys to Old Men,’ Howie joked, while Simon insisted: ‘I absolutely love you three. I don’t understand why people put an age limit on talent shows. If you’re good you’re good, it doesn’t matter how old you are.’
Don’t stop: Heidi urged The Masqueraders to never stop dreaming
Simon also raved about Final Draft, four singers from Atlanta, Georgia, after their version of James Brown’s It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World, telling them: ‘I’m excited — I think there’s a real shot with you.’
They were reduced to tears after Howie also insisted: ‘Your life will never be the same after tonight.’
But perhaps the biggest musical impact of the night came from Miami cab driver Carlos De Antonis, 53, who insisted a passenger he sang to encouraged him to enter the talent show — with him then stunning with his high notes on the opera classic Nessun Dorma.
Killed it: Final Draft from Atlanta nailed their rendition of It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World
After a huge ovation, Simon told him: ‘The only people that matter on this show are the audience, and when they love somebody, they love someone. You just gave it heart, and you are as a person one of the most likable contestants we’ve ever had on this show.’
With Carlos in tears of joy, Howie also told him: ‘You’re character — you are so giving. You’re a nut but you’re an amazing nut. Everybody in America is saying ”I love you”.’
Young magician Henry Richardson, 15, from Brooklyn, New York, insisted he only discovered magic ‘by watching America’s Got Talent,’ a love he shared with his dad.
Opera voice: Carlos De Antonis sang an opera classic
‘Me and my dad we both kind of always rooted for the magician, that was our favorite,’ he recalled. ‘We’d spend hours together as I would practice magic and he would watch me and critique me. My dad was always there to help.’
But when Henry was just nine his dad was diagnosed with lung cancer, saying: ‘That news was devastating. After my dad passed I wouldn’t do magic because it reminded me too much of him.’
However, he soon picked up his old passion, saying: ‘I realized that magic wasn’t something I lost from my dad, it’s something that he gave me. And now every time I perform it’s like he’s there helping me out.
Teen talent: Henry Richardson performed a magic routine for the judges
‘Tonight I’m going to imagine my dad encouraging me in an imaginary extra seat in front of the judges. I want to make him really proud.’
Henry won over all four judges with his card tricks, having made Mel sign one of the cards — with her admitting: ‘Oh I’ve spelled my name wrong.’
‘B is with a ‘B’,’ Howie teased her of the simple spelling to her name.
Nice move: Mel was impressed with Henry’s card trick
Mel later praised Henry for having a ‘little swagger thing going on’ as he made her card move from her hand to his, later also getting Simon to pick an image of a soccer ball from a notebook that ended up being in the middle of Mel’s card when she ripped it in half.
‘You’re a little Harry Potter, aren’t you?’ Simon told him, adding: ‘I thought it was brilliant. I like you.’
‘I think you are the shining example of our audience sitting at home, watching it, and you come here, you perform, and you did wonderful,’ Howie told him.
Shining example: Howie told Henry that he was a ‘shining example’ for the audience at home
Husband and wife Maria and Maxim Popazov came on together — but insisted on performing separately, insisting it was ‘a nightmare’ when they tried to work together as a balancing act.
‘At home I can admit she’s the boss, but at work — no,’ Maxim said.
He went first, wearing a white suit and hat and drawing gasps as he balanced on top of several chairs stacked high, even doing a handstand at the top.
Up there: Maxim Popazov balanced on top of several chairs stacked high
‘You are a true entertainer, my gosh,’ Mel said. ‘You sir are absolutely brilliant.’
When his wife came out, Simon teased her: ‘Maxim said you weren’t very good.’
But she drew even louder gasps with her balancing act, twisting herself into seemingly impossible positions and ending the act by holding herself up just by gripping something in her mouth.
Her turn: Maria Popazov performed after her husband and was equally impressive
‘I am speechless,’ Mel said, adding: ‘Your husband is a very lucky man.’
‘Your husband is a very lucky man but you might be a tiny little bit better,’ Heidi said, with Howie adding: ‘What a couple!’
One of the most eye-catching performances had been from small-town sheriff’s deputy Deuntay Diggs who wore his uniform for his dance, having told the judges: ‘I want people to realize when they see a cop that we’re human beings too and we like to let loose and have fun.’
Dance routine: Sheriff’s deputy Deuntay Diggs was buzzed off during his dance routine
He remained smiling even after all four buzzed him off, with Simon joking: ‘You can just prevent people doing crimes by saying I’m going to dance.’
They were even more harsh with Amazing Hoover who tried to play music with various parts of his body and household instruments, with Simon telling him: ‘That’s the most annoying act we’ve had so far.’
‘It’s like an eight-year-old’s birthday party,’ Howie said, with Heidi insisting: ‘An eight year old would not think that was cool either.’
Good effort: Amazing Hoover was rejected after his musical act