Jerry Springer will be the first to tell you he doesn't have too much talent. But the former talk show host is impressed with the prowess of an eclectic group of contestants on his reality show.
"There's a lot of diversity," said Springer during a Wednesday conference call with reporters, discussing America's Got Talent's second season hopefuls. "Clearly there are a lot of singers, but boy, there's a whole bunch of other stuff too, from magicians to ventriloquists to jugglers... Some amazing acts frankly. I haven't seen television like this since the old variety shows. That does seem to be the magic of this show.
America's Got Talent 2 debuts tomorrow night on NBC with a special two-hour premiere, and Springer will be there to take the reigns from the show's first season host, Regis Philbin. The 75-year-old New York-based Philbin reportedly decided not to return for America's Got Talent 2 due to the "heavy travel schedule" the show's Los Angeles tapings required.
And Springer said he's not looking to be the second coming of Kelly Ripa's morning pal.
"You know Regis is the best there ever was at this business so I'm not even going to pretend I can fill his shoes," said Springer. "It would be insulting to him and foolish of me. I'm going to be what I can be as best I can be. But it's going to be me, it's not Regis. I would never pretend to have his competence."
Springer, of course, is best known for his syndicated talk show The Jerry Springer Show, which is currently airing its sixteenth season. He said there's a "tremendous difference" between appearing as the "ringmaster" for that circus-like talk show and hosting America's Got Talent.
"I think some of [the America's Got Talent] acts are really strange," said Springer. "There were a few where I could have said, 'Wow. What a perfect guest [for The Jerry Springer Show].' But I don't know if their behavior in their regular lives would warrant an appearance on [The Jerry Springer Show]. That's probably a plus for them."
Last fall, Springer also became a familiar face to reality television fans when he appeared as a celebrity two-stepper on the third season of ABC's Dancing with the Stars. After surviving six episodes of the reality competition series, he was eliminated with partner Kym Johnson.
"I guess Dancing was kind of interesting because even though I had been on television in one capacity or another for 35 years, it was the first time I was ever on television as myself," he said. "I always had a role. I was [the mayor of Cincinnati, OH], or I was a news anchor, or I was a talk-show host, but I always had a role to play.
Dancing with the Stars was really the first time I was ever on a show just as me. And I think therefor people who might have thought they knew me perhaps realized that they didn't. I think that's why there was such an impact with that show. There was the unexpected... I guess it was the missed expectation of who I was."
During its first season last summer, the Simon Cowell-produced variety-talent competition was judged by actor David Hasselhoff, former British newspaper editor Piers Morgan and pop singer Brandy Norwood. However, last December Norwood caused a four-car accident on a Los Angeles freeway that resulted in the death of motorist Awatef Aboudihaj, whose two sons have since filed wrongful death lawsuits against Norwood.
Therefore, prior to America's Got Talent's second season, she was replaced with former The Osbournes star Sharon Osbourne.
"[The judges] go at each other quite a bit. I think the three of them are strong personalities, and I think most of the action is among the judges," said Springer. "I think most of the contestants are scared of Piers Morgan. He's very bright but very tough. He plays the Simon Cowell [American Idol] role. They figure if they can get by Piers, they'll move on to the next round. And Sharon tends to be very supportive often times. She plays for the real young ones the kind mother... She's actually very charming."