'America's Got Talent' Season 9: Howard Stern and Heidi Klum are bluntly honest with contestants

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When a man's act includes whipped cream and pie tins for his feet and cakes worn on his arms like so many edible bracelets, chances are he is not going to win an Emmy.

Throw in balloons and a kazoo, and it's clear there's only one place on network television where he could even find a moment's notoriety: "America's Got Talent." NBC's summer hit returns for a ninth season Tuesday, May 27.

That man, auditioning at New York's Madison Square Garden, represents why this show differs from other talent contests. 

Nowhere else would he even make it onstage. Here the judges engage him.

"I don't mean any offense by this, but have you been on medication?" Howard Stern asks.

The man says yes.

Later, while crews clean up the stage, making it usable for the dancers, bands and comedians who will try to get the judges to pass them on to the next round, the judges relax backstage.


Heidi Klum and Mel B share a blanket to cover their legs; the room is freezing.

"Can I buzz before they start?" Klum says. "That was one of the most ridiculous things I have ever seen."

But the judges say they have seen plenty of truly talented hopefuls during the auditions.

"The danger category has been pretty good," Stern says. "The couple with the knife throwing -- that's sticking with me."

"This is the year of the little kid," Howie Mandel says.

The four had already sat through days of auditions in Los Angeles, New Jersey and New York and were reviewing some of the acts that stuck with them. But the acts Mandel remembered didn't register with Stern.

"We have created a safe environment for talent," Stern tells Zap2it. "The talent this year feels safer and more willing to audition."

This season also brings the golden buzzer, which each judge is allowed to use just once during the auditions. It's a magic save, even if the other three vote against the act.
Photo/Video credit: NBC