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Kevin Downey

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America's Got Talent, Pleading for Its Susan Boyle

Posted: 07/01/09 01:46 AM ET

America's Got Talent kicked off its new season last week with big ratings. Two episodes. The week's two highest rated shows.

That, you'd think, would be good enough for the show's producers to can their choreographed attempt to create the U.S. version of Susan Boyle, Britain's Got Talent's lumpy runner-up.

But, no.

Last night, Talent zeroed in on country bumpkin Kevin Skinner, an aww-shucks-type unemployed farmer who perfectly fits the Boyle mold -- rumpled clothes and the skin of a man who's worked outdoors for years.

Talent's likeable and frequently teary-eyed judges, David Hasselhoff, Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan, pounced.

Skinner's a respectably talented singer who might bring down the house at a country fair or a truck-stop bar (that's not a knock -- I wish I could sing well enough to bring down any house).

Talent went overboard in trying to make this ugly duckling its swan. In fact, Morgan said as much without uttering the "SB" words -- Susan Boyle.

Talent also went overboard with Carol Lugo, a goodish dancer from Jersey City who got a standing ovation for simply saying, "I'm 62." Ooh-kay.

America's Got Talent is a lot of fun to watch. And its ratings prove it doesn't need to try so hard to find an underdog it can cling to (and that NBC can build a massive multimedia promotional campaign around).

Meanwhile, there were some genuinely talented people on last night's show, including Skinner.

He got Talent's plum final segment. You know, the final few minutes when the music swells, the audience gasps and the judges flail their arms, mouths agape, to ensure that we viewers know they're floored.

Thia Megia, a 14-year-old girl from California, was a good singer who I'm guessing will make it to the finals. And magician Jay Mattioli was impressive.