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What's new when 'America's Got Talent' returns for season 9

"America's Got Talent" judges and host Nick Cannon.
"America's Got Talent" judges and host Nick Cannon.
NBC/Andrew Eccles

"America's Got Talent" returns May 27 for its ninth season on NBC and it is going to spruce things up a little bit with a couple of changes in the format.

First, the judges are going to get a save. It is not a new concept. The judges on "American Idol" get one save per season. The difference with "AGT" is that each judge gets one save per season instead of it being a group save. That way, if one judge feels strongly about a performer who gets buzzed off, he can bring them back. Judge Heidi Klum calls it the Golden Buzzer.

Howie Mandel says he has already used his save this season for someone he wanted to see more of, but he is also concerned that someone better may come along, as they are only half way through, and he has already used his save.

Another change for the season is for the first time, Bootcamp will be held in New York City in front of a live audience. "AGT" executive producer Sam Donnelly said that the format for Bootcamp will change, but since it is in development, she didn't want to reveal too much.

Also the locale for auditions with the judges -- Klum, Mandel, Howard Stern and Mel Brown -- have been limited to Los Angeles and New York City.

"In New York, the contestants are flown in and they audition at Madison Square Garden," Mandel told reporters at the NBC/Universal Summer Press Day at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena. "In Los Angeles, they are going to be on the stage at the Dolby Theatre, where the Oscars take place. So already, their first time out is an epic experience, and there’s going to be more pressure than they have ever been under before.”

As host Nick Cannon points out, being the most talented person in Poughkeepsie isn't the same as making the cut in the big cities, so by holding the auditions at Madison Square Garden and the Dolby Theater pushes people to up their game.

The one thing that all three judges agree on is that the talent is great this season -- even though they are aware that they say the same thing every year -- but finding worthy contestants is the most important thing to them.

"I don't care how sad or deep the background story is," Klum said. "If the act is bad, they get my X."

"We are the luckiest people on earth and whoever watches the show shares in that," Mandel said. “We are truly really excited about what we see. I think in each previous year we'd look at each other and say, 'Can you believe that guy did that?' And this year is even more dangerous, more spectacular and more off the hook than this show has ever been before."

"America's Got Talent" returns on May 27 at 9 p.m. on NBC.

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