Nick Cannon is eager to put “Soul Train” back on track.
The singer, host of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” and husband of Mariah Carey aims to put a reboot of the late Don Cornelius‘ iconic 1971-2006 music show into production by the end of the year. And Cannon’s own entertainment history has given him an appreciation of the program from the inside looking out.
“That’s my passion project right now, the thing that I’m the most excited about,” he tells Zap2it. “It’s been under wraps for the past couple of years — I don’t know how it got out there — but it’s really exciting to be able to be a part of something that’s such an amazing legacy for our culture.
“A lot of people don’t know it, but at the age of 15, I was a ‘Soul Train’ dancer. That was the first time I was ever on national television. To take the reins and carry on the amazing brand Don built, in a respectful way, is my plan and my mission.”
Cannon recalls the imposing, famously deep-voiced Cornelius as an “outstanding” person.
“There was even a time when Mr. Cornelius pulled me to the side and asked me to host a television show for him. I couldn’t do it at the time because I was contractually tied up in a bunch of other stuff; now, to be a producer as well as a host — in the same capacity he did it, as a great businessman with the brand — is what I plan to do.”
“America’s Got Talent” starts its eighth NBC season Tuesday, June 4, with new judges Heidi Klum and Mel B joining returnees Howard Stern and Howie Mandel. Cannon says the recent judging-panel “drama” involving wife Carey and Nicki Minaj on FOX’s “American Idol” has left him even happier about his own show.
“Ours is drama-free when it comes to the judges and how things are set up,” he reflects. “The producers, as well as the network, treat us wonderfully … and we treat each other with the most respect, so we don’t get caught up in any of the fabricated drama that can go on.
“It’s the host’s job to constantly remind the audience why they’re there,” adds Cannon (whose “Wild ‘N Out” sketch-comedy series also relaunches Tuesday, July 9, on MTV2). “Because our show is so focused on talent of all ages, it’s a fun, family feeling. And it’s easy to keep everyone on the right track.”