'America's Got Talent': Heidi Klum and Sofia Vergara Join Season 15 as Judges
By Meredith B. Kile
Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for InStyle
TheAmerica's Got Talent judging panel shakeup has settled -- with one new face and one returning star completing the group, alongside Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel.
Heidi Klum will return to the NBC variety show and Modern Family star Sofia Vergara will fill the fourth seat on the panel for the show's upcoming 15th season, NBC announced on Thursday. Klum previously served as a judge from seasons 8-13, departing in 2018, and has also appeared on the judging panel for both seasons of the spinoff series, America's Got Talent: The Champions.
The pair's introduction will follow the tumultuous exit of season 14 judges Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough, both of whom exited after just one season amid allegations of a "toxic culture" on set.
"I am so excited to be back at @AGT with @simoncowell @howiemandel and @terrycrews!" Klum captioned a photo of her and Vergara on her Instagram page following the announcement. "The fact that @sofiavergara is joining us is the icing on an already delicious cake! ? #agt."
"I’m so happy to join my new family on AGT," said Vergara -- who is currently wrapping up the 11th and final season of Modern Family -- in a statement. "This is a new and exciting next chapter for me and I’m extremely proud to be the first Latin judge on the show. I can’t wait to watch all the talent and have fun with all you guys!"
"Sofia’s infectious energy and sharp wit will blend perfectly with returning favorites Heidi, Simon, Howie, and Terry. As both a respected actress and successful entrepreneur, she embodies the American dream that is synonymous with AGT’stransformative stage," said Meredith Ahr, President, Alternative & Reality Group, NBC Entertainment, in the network's press release.
"As we head into our milestone 15th season, we are excited to welcome Sofia to the AGT family," added Trish Kinane, President of Entertainment Programming at Fremantle, the show's production company. "We are also delighted at the return of the amazing Heidi Klum and look forward to a lot of fun as these dynamic, accomplished women join Simon, Howie and host Terry Crews to inspire contestants in a fun-filled and unpredictable series."
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Heidi Klum on 'Amazing' Return to 'America's Got Talent: The Champions'
Last month, NBC Entertainment Chairman Paul Telegdy confirmed at the winter Television Critics Association press tour that NBC is in the middle of an investigation into AGT, following allegations made by Union after she and Hough were let go after one season. Union alleged that there was a "toxic culture" on set -- which included an allegedly racially insensitive joke made by guest judge Jay Leno, a contestant whose quick-changing act reportedly included the use of dark makeup on his hands to portray Beyonce, and allegedly numerous comments from network executives about Union's hairstyles being "too black."
"The duration long-term of a brand comes with the ebbs and flows of who comes, who goes and we proudly embrace making shows better. What we also proudly embrace at NBC Entertainment is the notion that we can always be a better workplace. So, what we are is in the middle of an investigation. That's really serious, I can't deny it. I've never had one before so... that will be handled by lawyers," Telegdy told reporters at the time when asked about the status of the AGT allegations.
"We're very confident that if we learn something... we'll put new practices in place if that's what's necessary and take anyone's critique of what it means to come to work here incredibly seriously," he added.
ET spoke with Klum at Elton John's annual Oscars viewing party earlier this month, where she opened up about the controversy surrounding the show and the possibility she might return as a full-time AGT judge.
"I feel like people who have been complaining, we should be listening to them," she said. "I have nothing to complain about -- I've only had the best time, and that's my story. Everyone has a different story. My story is a positive one."