A former "America's Got Talent" contestant is shining a light on the pressures competitors face to pull off outrageous stunts that will help them progress through to the next rounds in the show.
Danny Wolverton, who performed levitation acts on season 8 of "AGT," spoke to the New York Post about how performers are pushed to do things "bigger and better." The interview came days after a stuntman on "America's Got Talent: Extreme" was critically injured after being sandwiched between two cars.
"They do try to push acts to do things bigger and better," Wolverton said. "You will push yourself beyond what you would normally feel is safe because you're in the mindset of this is my big shot."
Wolverton had been performing levitation stunts for a year before he was scouted to be on the show in 2013. It was during that time he learned what it took to make it on "AGT."
"They don't like the middle ground of someone who is mediocre," he said. "They want an act that is either so good or not really. You have a lot of people with big dreams and whenever you have people who aren't as established, you'll have people going on the show who aren't very experienced doing what they're doing."
At issue is, because most contestants try to bring their A-game in the first episode, they are left trying to better their own acts with performances that producers have pitched.
"They'll try to push acts to do the acts they want to be done," Wolverton said. "They know how to use leverage."
During the interview, Wolverton did stress that the show took great measures to ensure its contestants' safety. His main concern is the pressure that competitors face.
"The problem is the performers can become kind of blinded by the game and they can sometimes push themselves beyond what they're normally comfortable with because when you get a taste of fame, it can be corrupting to your own psychology," he said.
NBC announced Sunday it would be suspending production on "AGT: Extreme," which began filming its first season earlier this month, after Jonathan Goodwin barely survived a stunt that went horribly wrong after he was crushed between two vehicles while suspended 70 feet into the air.
"In order to focus on the wellbeing of our crew, we will be temporarily pausing production on 'America's Got Talent: Extreme' and will resume the last few days of filming at a later date," a spokesperson for the NBC series told Today on Sunday. "The health and safety of our cast and crew continue to be our priority."
For the stunt, Goodwin was meant to free himself from a straight jacket, then drop between the two swinging cars and onto an air mattress, but as he was falling, the cars slammed into him, then burst into flames. Goodwin then fell, hitting his head. He was airlifted to hospital Thursday but his current condition remains unknown.
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