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Howie Mandel is the new David Hasselhoff? Wait, what?

January 11, 2010 |  8:07 am

Howie and hoffDavid Hasselhoff said Wednesday that he was leaving the judging ranks of "America's Got Talent" to follow his dream, he told People, "to do my own TV show, which will be announced very shortly."

And who better to take over for him than ... Howie Mandel? Pardon the Ministry's confusion, but, Howie Mandel? Hey, that's what NBC announced Sunday. Maybe a few execs were all hanging around the NBC offices over the weekend shooting the breeze, so why not fix more than one problem?

Jeff Gaspin, entertainment chairman for NBC Universal Television, wasn't actually in the office Sunday morning (we made that up; could you smell the sarcasm?), but rather sitting on a Television Critics Assn. panel when he said of Howie: “If you think about an expertise, Howie has had a Las Vegas show for years, and he constantly performs in Las Vegas. So we actually thought — not only is he a great communicator, but he’s actually an expert.”

Well, that clears it up right there. 

The lineup of judges next time around for "AGT" will be Mandel, Piers Morgan and the delicate flower that is Sharon Osbourne, plus super-charged host Nick Cannon.

"Deal or No Deal," the show Mandel hosted in which people with their eyes on a big-bucks jackpot were egged on by family and friends to greedily ignore statistical realities on the off chance that the universe would treat them differently than the rest of us, was canceled in 2009.

For those who might doubt that Howie can handle burgeoning talent, we've, like, embedded, like, a video of him interviewing Britney Spears in, like, 1999.

In it he informs her that her first single has gone platinum, and observes that she sounds "totally normal." 

All righty, then. Can't wait to see the new "AGT."

-- Christie D'Zurilla

Photos: Howie Mandel speaks during the July 2006 TCA press tour in Pasadena, left, and David Hasselhoff arrives for the MTV Europe Music Awards in Berlin on Nov. 5, 2009. If you can figure out the hidden, across-the-years message in their hand signals, please let us know. Credits: Soeren Stache / EPA, left; Reed Saxon / Associated Press.

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