'America's Got Talent': How the Show Addressed Simon Cowell's Absence Following His Bike Accident

simon cowell agt season 15
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America's Got Talent is back! Live from Universal Studios Hollywood, the competition show returned Tuesday with acts performing all over the lot and with international acts beamed in via satellite from all over the world.

Sofia Vergara, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel, along with host Terry Crews, all returned to set, with Simon Cowell noticeably missing after suffering a bike accident on Saturday. Filling in for Cowell was none other than Kelly Clarkson.

"Simon Cowell had an accident over the weekend and he can't be here tonight. But Simon, we are sending lots of AGT love and our best wishes and we hope to see you soon," Crews addressed viewers. "Standing in for Simon tonight, we are psyched to have a true superstar. Miss Kelly Clarkson."

Crews then asked the "Since U Been Gone" singer how it felt to fill in for the night.

"I have waited years for this. I love Simon, but I'm getting really used to this chair, buddy." Clarkson joked. "I'm just saying, take your time. I could use another job."

"I hope he feels better," she added. "I love the show. Thank you all for having me."

After the show, Cowell tweeted, "Thank you @kellyclarkson . Miss all of you. What a Great Show. #AGT"

On Saturday night, Cowell underwent a six-hour surgery, which included having a metal rod placed in his back, after an electric bike accident at his Malibu, California, home. ET learned on Tuesday that the 60-year-old judge is walking again as part of his recuperation.

As the performances got underway, the judges shared their thoughts on the first act, duo Pork Chop Revue, who trained pigs to complete an obstacle course. After Mandel delivered his feedback, Klum cracked, "I'm missing the audience booing."

Last week, ET spoke with judges Cowell and Vergara, along with Crews, who explained how the crew is safely producing the competition show live.

"A few weeks ago, we were having this conversation, and I thought it wasn't going to happen," Cowell admitted to ET's Kevin Frazier. "I mean, there are so many hoops you gotta go through, right? But I think we pulled it off. It's going to look different than any other previous year. It's gonna be big, it's gonna be entertaining, it's gonna be wild, it's gonna be unpredictable, but I love that. I like that thrill of being on a roller coaster when you're like, 'This is gonna have its ups and downs, but I don't know what's coming.'"

"We, the whole crew, tested, [have] masks. We just got tested, so it's safe," he continued. "We're going to keep our distance but at the same time make sure it's a great show. And the contestants are going to be amazing. They're all pumped up for it, they're excited, so it's a miracle we pulled it off, I gotta be honest."

The interview took place just a day before he broke his back in a bike accident.

"Simon had a fall from his bike testing his new electric bike in the courtyard at his house in Malibu with his family," his rep told ET at the time. "He hurt his back and was taken to hospital. He's doing fine, he's under observation and is in the best possible hands."

For more on Cowell's recovery, watch below.

America's Got Talent airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.


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