'America's Got Talent': Kenan Thompson to Fill in for Simon Cowell

By
kenan thompson
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

SNL meets AGT!

Kenan Thompson will be filling in for Simon Cowell as a judge on America's Got Talent after Cowell injured his back earlier this month. The longtime Saturday Night Live cast member will join the judging panel for Tuesday and Wednesday's live shows, after Kelly Clarkson stepped in last week for the premiere.

Cowell's fellow judges, Sofia Vergara, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel, along with host Terry Crews, all returned to AGT last week, and sent love to their fellow AGT panelist, who injured himself in a bike accident.

"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 told viewers last week. 

"I have waited years for this. I love Simon, but I'm getting really used to this chair, buddy." Clarkson joked of stepping in for her former American Idol judge. "I'm just saying, take your time. I could use another job."

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

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 last Tuesday that the 60-year-old judge is walking again as part of his recuperation.

On Monday, ET also learned that Cowell was happily back home and doing well.

Ahead of the AGT live shows, ET spoke with judges Cowell and Vergara, along with Crews, who explained how the show's crew is safely producing the competition show amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"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.

"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.

RELATED CONTENT:

'AGT' Standout Archie Williams on Connecting With Stevie Wonder

'AGT': These Five Acts Are the First to Move to Semifinals

'America's Got Talent': How the Show Addressed Simon Cowell's Absence

Related Gallery