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Published:June 28th, 2011 17:14 EST
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AGT Host Nick Cannon Talks 'Talent'

By Paulette Cohn

America`s Got Talent continues tonight with auditions in New York City. Despite being the biggest city in the U.S., there were a lot of duds in the Big Apple that were given the axe by judges Sharon Osbourne, Piers Morgan and Howie Mandel. How will the talent fare in this latest batch?

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Nick Cannon hosts America`s Got Talent, featuring a colorful array of hopeful future stars as they compete for a chance to win a $1 million prize and become the most talented act in America.

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In this interview, Cannon talks about the quality of the talent this season, a few of his favorites and the youngsters that try out for the show.

Since you do standup, what type of connection do you have with the acts, knowing how important it is to them?

Nick Cannon: As a fellow performer, I just know the intensity, especially when this is their shot at stardom, so the level of intensity and the stakes are so high that I just empathize with them being in that position, whether it`s on stage doing standup or whether it`s an audition or music.

When you`ve got all the chips on the table, you want to go out there and give everything and give your best performance. So, I just try to encourage them and try to, you know, let them know that it`s not the end of the world if it doesn`t go as planned, because in their mind this is the end. This is their shot.

You started in the business at a very young age and America`s Got Talent is actually known for having a lot of young performers. Now that you`re a new father, how would you feel about your kids getting into the industry?

Nick Cannon: I`m not really a fan of encouraging my kids to be entertainers. Not because I think there`s anything wrong with it. I mean, I think it`s beautiful when a young person is striving for their dreams, and if my children do want to do that I`ll be as fully supportive as possible.

But, I just think there are so many other things in the world to become and to strive for. I think a lot of times we value the entertainment industry way too much. It`s amazing, but you know, I want my children to be heart surgeons or college professors.

What kind of contact and interaction do you have with the contestants off-camera before the performance, or after the performance?

Nick Cannon: The show is pretty true to real life. I meet a lot of the contestants outside on the line as they`re getting ready to come into the theater. The ones that look interesting, or the ones that we have time to speak to, I speak to. And then, I meet every single contestant on the side of the stage and usually I have about five minutes to kind of interview and talk to each and every person before they go out there, so it`s pretty brief beforehand. I kind of am introduced to them as the audience is introduced to them. And then as they go forward throughout the competition, obviously, I get to know them a little bit better.

Do you have any favorite acts of the ones you`ve seen so far this season?

Nick Cannon: There`s quite a few. I mean, the Shabaz Boys are definitely adorable. Right now it`s so hard to say. There`s some that`ll be on tonight that I`m looking forward to, so I`ll just hold that until we see those, but there`s definitely some ones coming up that I`m excited about.

Can you talk a little bit about the level of talent this season versus past seasons?

Nick Cannon: Every year we say, "The show`s getting better and better," but I really believe that this is the best year because I think people are inspired by the previous years. I think this year people are more creative; they`re more open-minded.  When you saw acts like Fighting Gravity last year, it did so well. And then, you see someone even do better than that this year and so early on with iLuminate.  The talent is tremendous this year and just taking these different approaches and these different ideas. And the youth culture has been infused in this show in such a way --everything from the ratings to the chatter about the show kind of proves it.

In what ways do you think America`s Got Talent is helping to breed a more hopeful generation, in terms of opportunity?

Nick Cannon: It takes ordinary people with extraordinary talent and gives them an opportunity that they normally wouldn`t have because they might be from Minneapolis or they live in Seattle and can`t get to Hollywood or New York. It kind of evens the playing field when it comes to entertainment.

I mean, when you think about our YouTube show, it doesn`t matter where you are in America, it`s a platform for you to showcase what you have. And it`s not just, "Oh, can you be the next American Idol singer or can you be the greatest dancer?" It`[s like everyone has a skill set and we want to give the opportunity for everyone to display it.

America`s Got Talent airs Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. and Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. on NBC.

Follow Paulette Cohn on twitter: http://twitter.com/paulette49