America’s Got Talent viewers wondering where judge Heidi Klum was on Tuesday night’s (June 16) episode finally have an answer. With new judge Sofia Vergara’s former Modern Family co-star Eric Stonestreet capably filling the seat, host Terry Crews revealed halfway through the two-hour episode that “unfortunately Heidi Klum is a bit under the weather.”
Last month, People spoke to Klum about falling on the set and not return to film several episodes during the audition rounds earlier this year. The model said she tested negative for coronavirus after it took a “really long time” to get a diagnosis in the early spring before the pandemic exploded. “If you reverse back in time, you knew that there was something, but we were filming every day with people and an audience,” she said about shooting with a full audience before stay-at-home guidelines went into place. “There was no social distancing, no one knew too much about this.”
Klum said she got sick on March 10 with a fever and sore throat and as soon as she told the production heads she was rushed to the on-set medic to get her vitals read; they confirmed her fever and and sent her home. “We didn’t have days to think about it. We had hours to think about it,” Simon Cowell told People about the scramble to find a fill-in for Klum.
“Heidi obviously got ill and, for obvious reasons, she had to stay at home. Someone said, ‘Well, why don’t we hire Eric?’ And we said it’s a good idea because Sofia and Eric worked together and they have chemistry. He was a real trooper. He stepped in at the last moment,” said Cowell. According to People, Tuesday’s episode was a look at the last we’ll see of a studio audience for this season, as the live crowd was eliminated as the auditions continued.
“It was surreal, but interestingly, we developed this really close bond with the contestants during that whole period,” explained Cowell. “When you don’t have an audience, you feel for them because it’s much harder to audition without a crowd. So, they’re coming on to total silence.” At press time it was unclear when or if production will continue for season 15, with Cowell saying that continuing without a live audience is not great.
“I wouldn’t want to do that again in the future,” he said. “The expression, ‘The show must go on,’ to a point, we did as much as we could. And then after two days, we realized we had to finish.”