Oz Pearlman writing down a prediction in front of the judges on Tuesday night's episode of "America's Got Talent." Oz Pearlman writing down a prediction in front of the judges on Tuesday night's episode of "America's Got Talent." Oz Pearlman writing down a prediction in front of the judges on Tuesday night's episode of "America's Got Talent." (Photo: YouTube)

‘America’s Got Talent’ finalist Oz Pearlman’s advice for new contestants

The famed mentalist explains how the show reminds him of 'The Hunger Games' and reveals the secret to making it to the final episode.

With the new season of "America's Got Talent" starting, thousands of contestants will be vying for that top prize: $1 million and a headlining spot in Las Vegas. This year's crop has an even tougher hurdle to cross, as the 11th season of the show marks the debut of judge Simon Cowell, who will be replacing departing judge Howard Stern. The British media mogul, who served as a judge on "American Idol" and "Britain's Got Talent," is one of the creators of "America's Got Talent," but had never served as a judge – until now.

So to help this new batch of contestants calm their nerves, we reached out to last year's finalist Oz Pearlman, the Israel-born mentalist who wowed the judges and catapulted himself to the final show. What advice would he give the new contestants? Well, since we're not mind-readers, we'll let him explain.

Rule 1: Be a builder

The Japanese dance troupe Siro-A started off strong, but then faltered after their first performance.The Japanese dance troupe Siro-A started off strong, but then faltered after their first performance. (Photo: NBC)

"It's well known that you need to build – every round needs to be bigger and better than before. So do not lead with too strong of a foot. It's kind of like last year, that Japanese group that was favored from the start, Siro-A. They were unbelievable. They were spectacular. They were almost too good. That's the problem: they didn't save the ace in the hole. So you want to trickle out your best material, and that can be very, very challenging. Because you want to leave it all out there, but at the same time you don't want to do something that's not good enough to get you to the next level. It's a very delicate balancing act."


Rule 2: Smile and enjoy yourself

Oz Pearlman AGT semifinalsIn this scene from "America's Got Talent," Oz Pearlman hams it up with Heidi Klum as his assistant. (Photo: Screenshot via YouTube/NBC)

"Have fun, because no matter what happens – if it's good, if it's bad, it doesn't matter. It's going to be a very unique experience in your life and it will fly by. So whether you don't make it through the first round or whether you are the winner, you should have fun with it, because your good energy and the fact that you're enjoying it relates to the audience. They pick up on that. And that's what they want. The audience wants to get behind someone that they like, that they can cheer for and that looks like they're having a good time."


Rule 3: Get America behind you

The popular "Hunger Games" franchise, starring Jennifer Lawrence, provides perfect source material for a traveling museum exhibition.The popular "Hunger Games" franchise, starring Jennifer Lawrence, is akin to a summer reality show. (Photo: Lionsgate)

"Be humble and be smart and get a good strategy under way. It's almost akin to "The Hunger Games," when they need sponsors to send them things. On this show, you need America to get behind you. You need a story that is either going to unite, inspire or just absolutely detest. You need to be at some extreme where people are talking about you. The last thing you want to be is bland or forgettable. Whether you're going to be the villain or the good guy, you need to inspire people to be talking about you. And I think that's what the best acts always do on this show."

As for Pearlman himself, the mentalist and magician is keeping busy. Just yesterday, he appeared on the "Today" show to perform a special trick in honor of Memorial Day. You can watch his performance in the video below:

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