‘America’s Got Talent’ preview: Judges Cuts begin July 18 with guest judge Chris Hardwick [WATCH]

“America’s Got Talent” is nearing the end of the audition phase. On the July 18 episode of “AGT,” we will see the first of the guest judges, Chris Hardwick, the host of the new NBC game show “The Wall.” He will help the four regular judges — Mel B, Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel — cull some of the acts that they have sent through in the past six weeks of shows. And, as with the original fearsome foursome, Hardwick also gets a Golden Buzzer that can send an act straight through to the live shows.

Over the next three Tuesdays, we will see a trio of other guest judges — Laverne Cox, DJ Khaled and Seal — join the panel for one-off appearances. The three weeks of live quarter-finals will begin in early August and air on both Tuesday and Wednesday. The line-up will be the nine golden buzzer acts, the 24 acts from the Judge Cuts, and three wildcard acts chosen by the judges. A dozen acts perform each week; seven acts make it to the semi-finals while five are axed.

The two weeks of live semi-finals kick off in late August with the 21 acts voted to the semifinals, plus the judges’ semifinal wildcard pick. Each week, 11 acts will perform; five will make it through to the finals and six will be eliminated.

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The two-part finale will take place in mid-September. On the first night, all 10 acts will be perform. On the second, the top 5 will be revealed and then the countdown to the winner starts. The champ will win one million dollars and a gig as a headliner in Las Vegas.

Last year’s edition concluded on the third Sunday in September as it had in previous seasons. Twelve-year-old singer/songwriter Grace VanderWaal won. The mentalist duo, The Clairvoyants, were second and NFL player turned magician Jon Dorenbos was third. Tape Face claimed the title of most memorable act of the season.

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