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Synopsis

  • "America's Got Talent" returned for a fourth season on Tuesday night, and it was less than 30 seconds into the opening montage before there was a Susan Boyle sighting.

    New host Nick Cannon, replacing Jerry Springer -- who'd replaced Regis Philbin two years ago -- promised the biggest and baddest season to date, and we got started with a two-hour season premiere. The stakes once again are a $1 million grand prize and a chance to perform in Las Vegas.

    The unruly crowd was back for the audition round, which started in New York City. A singer and dancer named Ray Schwarz got it all started for the summer season. Poor Ray was doomed from the start, hitting notes that were as wobbly as his dance moves. A montage of bad performances followed, ending on a hot note when a fire dancer's hair went up in flames and stage hands had to run out on stage with extinguishers to put out the blaze.

    Just like that, we were whisked away to Chicago, where we found Moses Lam, who claimed to have a talent that could only be done by him. He warned viewers not to try it at home. His talent: walking with his feet turned a full 180 degrees. He was sent home.

    A dance group calling themselves the Footwork Kings came on with an inspiring story about getting out of a bad neighborhood and following their dream. The Chicago crew put on an impressive display of high-speed choreography that brought the crowd to its feet instantly. The judges loved it and put the group through -- the first "yes" vote of the season, 20 minutes in. And what inspiring story on "America's Got Talent" would be complete without R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" playing in the background?

    The "C'mon Get Happy" soundtrack could only mean one thing -- a family act from Wisconsin named Shine was up next. They butchered "Walking on Sunshine," and David and Piers X'd them quickly, but Sharon held out and let them finish. Another montage of bad acts followed.

    Peter Peterkin, a Barack Obama impersonator calling himself "The Rock n Roll President." After a funny intro, he launched into James Brown. Peter said he does about 300 impersonations and plays about 15 instruments. The crowd was chanting for him to be sent to the next round in Vegas, and the judges finally relented and put him through. Forty minutes in, two "yes" votes.

    But the Obama impersonator brought hope with him, kicking off a group of acts that were put through by the judges, including a percussion group, a vocal percussionist and a dance group.

    Debbie Victor said she had a talent that would blow the judges away, which rarely turns out to be true. She went on stage and said she does animal sounds. It took about two seconds of Debbie's barking dog for Sharon to hit her "X" button.

    Tony Hoard, a factory worker with an impressive friend, Rory, took the stage and put on an amazing display. Rory is Tony's Australian shepherd, and was trained to catch Frisbees tossed in any manner of ways. The crowd roared its approval and Tony and Rory were on their way to Vegas.

    The auditions moved on to Seattle -- technically Tacoma, but few people outside the Pacific Northwest would get the distinction. Brad Byers said his dream was to leave his job and perform full-time. His skill: putting things through his nostrils. First, he put a large hook through his left nostril and coiled it through his throat and out of his mouth. Then, he pulled out an electric drill and put it through his nose. Sound bizarre? Then, how about the fact that Piers and The Hoff voted to put him through to Vegas.

    The acts got even stranger as the Seattle audition wore on, but a trio of sisters were ready to unleash their singing skills. The EriAm Sisters, ages 11 to 15, thrilled the audience with their rendition of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back." The Hoff said they were the most talented group of kids he's seen on the show "since the beginning." They're on to Vegas.

    A tumbling group, an urban choir and a fire act all got green lights. A guy named David Johnson performed an original song about a crush he'd developed while watching "Baywatch" in high school. It was all about his admiration for David Hasselhoff. After "X"-ing him early in the performance, The Hoff gave the guy a "yes," but Sharon said she couldn't stand to hear that song again, but Piers let David through to Vegas.

    It was an "America's Got Talent" love story when aerialist Bruce and his assistant (and soul mate) Simone took the stage. The act consisted of the soul mates writhing around on each other inside a suspended hoop, a device Nick said he might have to get for his bedroom. The Hoff said no, but Sharon said yes. Piers said yes, and they were going to be hooping it up in Vegas.

    And it was back to New York, where the NYC Gay Men's Choir got things started on a positive note. Joseph Maracina said his impersonation skills were unmatched. He was right, but probably not in the way he'd hoped. It was a resounding no from the judges.

    A married acrobatic dance duo calling themselves "Paradizo Dance" stunned the crowd with some moves that involved the wife lifting her husband, who was at least twice her size. Piers asked, flat out, how much they each weighed. Her: 100 pounds. Him: 240. Piers said it was one of the most extraordinary things he'd ever seen in his life.

    With 10 minutes left and one act remaining and soft piano music playing, it was time for the most heart-warming story of the night -- and this one didn't disappoint. The family group called themselves Voices of Glory -- two brothers ages 16 and 13, and their 9-year-old little sister. The oldest brother explained that their mother was in a head-on collision with a drunk driver and they started singing to her as a group when she slipped into a coma. Their mother made it through and was in the wings of the stage watching her kids wow the crowd with their harmonies on "God Bless America." The audience and the judges rose to their feet in applause and Sharon cried. Piers called them "the pride of America, tonight." Their mother was brought on stage in her wheelchair and Sharon wept as she told their mother how proud she must be of her children. The judges gave a unanimous yes, with Piers calling it one of the most powerful moments the show has ever seen.

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