Heidi Klum Is 'Beyond Excited' — and Simon Cowell Loses His Voice! — as 'AGT' Season 18 Is Underway

·4-min read

PEOPLE can exclusively announce when America's Got Talent fans will see judges Simon Cowell, Sofía Vergara, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel alongside host Terry Crews back on NBC for a new season

Trae Patton/NBC
Trae Patton/NBC

America's Got Talent is rolling along on season 18 — even if the judges' panel is ever-so-slightly quieter than usual.

Judges Heidi Klum, Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Sofía Vergara and host Terry Crews returned to Pasadena, California, recently to kick off production on the NBC hit show's 18th season — and PEOPLE has the exclusive First Look.

The group was all smiles as they welcomed the newest batch of contestants on stage — all with hopes of becoming the next winner of AGT.

But season 18 threw a wrench in the works for famously sharp-tongued Cowell when he lost his voice early into taping.

"Who would have thought that season 18 would have left Simon literally speechless?" quipped Vergara, 50. "And of course Simon nominated me to give his reactions. He's passing notes to me like we are back in school."

Mandel, 67, continued the riff: "There are no words to describe the excitement level of season 18, That's why it's serendipitous that this is the season that Simon lost his voice finally."

Cowell, 63, could only smile and whisper: "I'm at a loss for words."

Related:Simon Cowell Was Once Offered His Own Talk Show — but He Backed Out: 'Literally Couldn't Do' It

Klum, 49, is making up for Cowell's temporarily muted persona, telling PEOPLE: "I am beyond excited to be back with my AGT family and find some new, exceptional talent. I can't wait to see what the contestants are going to bring to the stage this year."

Adds Crews, 54: "Season 18 of America's Got Talent means AGT is all grown up!!! I'm so happy to be here for this milestone!"

Ahead of PEOPLE's official First Look, the judges celebrated their first day on set with a flurry of photos over the weekend.

"Back to the best job in the world!!!!! @agt thank u @simoncowell ❤️❤️❤️❤️" Vergara wrote on Instagram Saturday beside a selfie taken at the judges' desk.

Related:America's Got Talent Winners: Where Are They Now?

Klum stayed true to her supermodel roots, sharing a glam shot from behind the judges' panel.

"Back at my desk 💚 @Agt," the model wrote on Instagram.

Related:America's Got Talent: All-Stars Crowns a New Winner! See Who Won — and Made History Along the Way

Meanwhile, Mandel, 67, had a little fun taking over Klum's Instagram feed, filming a short video of her and Vergara primping in between filming.

"Hey, we're taping AGT. I'm back," he said, before pointing out his fellow judges behind him, jokingly adding: "Don't look at them without powder. I'm showing you behind the powder."

Klum is marking her 10th season as a judge (she appeared on seasons 8–13 and 15–18) while Mandel will celebrate his 14th year as a judge, appearing on seasons 5–18. Vergara is starting her fourth season as a judge after joining the series in season 15. Executive producer Cowell joined the panel in 2015 for season 11, with this season marking his eighth.

As for Crews, he's been hosting the NBC hit series since season 14.

Related:America's Got Talent Crowns a New Champion! Lebanese Dance Troupe The Mayyas Win Season 17

Filming on season 18 comes just a few months after America's Got Talent: All-Stars wrapped its debut season, with self-taught aerialist Aidan Bryant earning the title of winner.

It also comes six months after Lebanese female dance troupe The Mayyas nabbed the season 17 crown of AGT. The group had been frontrunners in the competition ever since their audition, which prompted Vergara to press her Golden Buzzer.

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America's Got Talent premieres May 30 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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