Tag Archives: Howie Mandel

Forest Hills opera singer competing for America’s vote on ‘AGT’ this week


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by: Eric Liebowitz/NBC


A Texas-born, afro-sporting woman who enjoys football and mixed martial arts is not who most people imagine when they think of an opera singer.

That viewpoint is exactly what Forest Hills resident Olanna Goudeau is trying to prove wrong.

Goudeau, 32, and musical partner Ashley Renée Watkins, 29, will be singing for America’s vote Tuesday night in the hopes of spreading opera to a larger audience and winning $1 million.

“People feel [opera] is not accessible and not familiar to them,” Goudeau said. “We kind of want to be ambassadors for the art form.”

The singing duo, Acte II, is one of 48 acts that made it to the season nine “America’s Got Talent” quarterfinals, where they get to appear live at Radio City Music Hall and compete for viewers’ votes.

The ladies received yeses from all four judges, Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel, in the NBC show’s season nine premiere on May 27. They were so impressed that Acte II was selected to go straight through to the live performances, bypassing a second audition in front of the judges.

Mel B surprised Goudeau with the exciting news at her Queens home.

“I was completely shocked,” Goudeau said. “I didn’t say hello or invite her in.”

Before making it to the reality show stage, Goudeau’s love for singing started in church and with gospel music. As she grew older, she was introduced to classical music. But her focus on singing and opera as a career came in college.

After switching from a computer science major to music, she thought her program would focus on jazz music, since she was attending Dillard University in New Orleans. But to her surprise, she learned the classics and her passion for opera was born.

It was also at Dillard that she met Watkins, but they didn’t become friends until Goudeau was working on her master’s degree at the University of Oklahoma and Watkins was one of several Dillard students the school hosted following Hurricane Katrina.

They grew closer when they both were a part of Opera New Jersey one summer. The idea for Acte II started as way for them to find more singing opportunities in Europe and to do a concert tour.

“We enjoyed singing together,” Goudeau said. “So we were like, why don’t we make this official?”

The name and the group came to represent more.

“We wanted to make our own opportunities,” Goudeau said. “It’s like a second phase in life.”

The same weekend they were set to have their first concert, at the First AME Church: Bethel in Harlem, where Goudeau is currently an artist-in-residence, “America’s Got Talent” was holding auditions.

“We were so nervous that [the judges] wouldn’t accept opera,” she said. The pair both had their “afros out” and dressed like “everyday people.”

The judges not only accepted the art form, but were surprised by their voices.

“That was a moment and that was your moment,” Mel B said, adding that the performance made the hair on her arms stand up.

On Tuesday they will need to garner the same reaction from viewers. And Goudeau, who moved to Queens six years ago to pursue her New York City opera dreams, is asking the borough to vote for one of their own.

“[My family has] embraced Queens so much. I just feel so comfortable here. It’s such a community,” she said. “I hope Queens people vote.”

To watch Acte II perform live on “America’s Got Talent,” tune in on Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 9 p.m. To find out how to vote, visit www.nbc.com/americas-got-talent/vote/methods.

UPDATE: Acte II was eliminated in the Wednesday, Aug. 6 episode of “America’s Got Talent.”  To watch Acte II’ s Tuesday night performance, watch the video below. For more information on the singers, visit acteii.com.

 

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WATCH: 93-year-old Rockaway man pulls pickup truck with teeth for ‘America’s Got Talent’ Judgement Week


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Eric Liebowitz/NBC


Rockaway strongman Mike “Mighty Atom Jr.” Greenstein proved on national television that he is still young enough to pull a pickup truck with his teeth, but was it enough to get him to the next round of “America’s Got Talent”?

In his second appearance on the NBC reality competition show Tuesday night, the 93-year-old tugged the approximately 5,000-pound vehicle along with his younger brother in the front seat and judges  judges Heidi Klum, Mel B, Howie Mandel and Howard Stern, and host Nick Cannon in the back.

“I’m here to prove that i’m the world’s greatest strongman—agewise or otherwise,” Greenstein said before performing for the judges.

EMS was standing by in case something happened to Greenstein. Mandel asked him if he was alright after he seemed out of breath following the stunt, but EMS personnel said the second-generation strongman had a good heart rate.

During the show’s season nine premiere on May 27, he used his choppers to pull a 3,500-pound station wagon, with his 84-year-old brother, his brother’s wife and his “lady friend,” inside of it. The feat earned yeses from Klum, Mel B and Mandel, and another audition during Judgement Week.

But Stern turned him down because he felt Greenstein “needed more showmanship.”

That same sentiment may have been felt after his second performance, and on Wednesday’s episode he was not chosen as one of the 47 acts to perform live at Radio City Music Hall.

“It doesn’t disappoint me. I love doing it and I’ll keep on doing it as long as I keep going,” Greenstein said after learning he was cut.

Throughout the Judgement Week auditions, the judges kept expressing that it was a competitive season.

Greenstein was up against several impressive variety acts, some of which made it to live shows, including a man who performs feats of strength, 26-year-old JD Anderson.

If he had gone further in the competition  Greenstein would have liked to have tried to bend iron bars across the bridge of his nose, something he hasn’t done in almost 40 years. But he’s happy to have just honored the legacy of his father, Joseph, the first “Mighty Atom.”

“I got my message across and that was my father’s memory,” he said.

Greenstein was not the only Queens resident to appear on the show this season. Roger “Rogue” Quan, a Briarwood magician who owns Rogue Magic and Funshop in Elmhurst, received four yeses from the judges on the July 1 episode. Though he did not make it onto the Judgement Week episodes and was not selected as one of the finalist for the live shows, Quan is thinking about auditioning for another season.

“I was really disappointed,” Quan said. “I already prepared my next four acts. Maybe I’ll try again next year.”

 

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WATCH: Queens magician performs staple gun Russian roulette on ‘America’s Got Talent,’ wows judges


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Craig Blankenhorn/NBC


Queens magician Roger “Rogue” Quan took his chances with one out of four loaded staple guns on “America’s Got Talent” Tuesday night and four out of four judges loved it.

The Briarwood resident and owner of  Rogue Magic and Funshop in Elmhurst performed his staple gun Russian roulette routine on the July 1 episode.

Judge Mel B acted as an assistant, loading one industrial staple gun and shuffling it with three empty ones in a bag. Then, using her “woman’s intuition” she had to pick the three empty ones out of the bag and fire each of them at his temple.

“Do not trust me,” Mel B said as she was about to choose the third gun.

But Quan did trust her, and it was empty. Then, with the fourth gun, he stapled a photo of himself into a piece of wood.

The “dangerous magic” trick as Quan described it rendered Mel B and fellow judges Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Howard Stern nervous during the performance and impressed at the finish.

But most importantly it left them wanting more.

“I haven’t seen anything like it. I thought you were fantastic. I want to see more of you,” Klum said.

“You entertained us. It was a great presentation. After seeing that I can’t wait to see you again and that’s how this works,” Stern said.

“It was the most fulfilling moment of my performing career,” Quan told The Queens Courier.

Quan is now slated to appear on Judgment Week later this month, where it will be decided which 48 acts will compete in the live show.

 

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93-year-old Rockaway strongman moves on to next round of ‘America’s Got Talent’


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Craig Blankenhorn/NBC

Rockaway strongman Mike “Mighty Atom Jr.” Greenstein pulled off enough yeses from the “America’s Got Talent” judges to earn another appearance on the reality competition show.

The 93-year-old was featured in the NBC program’s season nine premiere Tuesday night, where he pulled a Plymouth station wagon with his teeth.

He impressed judges Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel with his strength, but judge Howard Stern said no.

But three out of four was all Greenstein needed to go to Judgment Week, where he will audition again, and the judges will determine which 48 acts will compete in the live shows for America’s vote. Judgment Week will air in July.

Greenstein, wearing a “Mighty Atom & Sons 1940” t-shirt, in honor of his father, the first “Mighty Atom,” who became renowned for his strongman act, both shocked and amazed the audience when he revealed his talent.

“You might say I have been carrying on his legacy,” Greenstein said during an interview for the show.

Though he never made a career out of his strongman act like his father, Greenstein performed as a hobby, after doing shows during WWII all over the country.

“My dad would be very proud to see me doing things like this,” Greenstein said. “I hope the judges think of me as something extraordinary, especially at my age.”

In his younger days, he would bend iron bars, break chains and pull vehicles with his hair and teeth.

“The hair is no more, so I am still pulling with my teeth,” he said.

Greenstein said, even at 93, his teeth are all his own.

He used those choppers to pull the 3,500-pound station wagon, with his 84-year-old brother, his brother’s wife and his “lady friend,” inside of it.

With cheers of encouragement from the New York City audience, he towed the car a full-vehicle length and impressed the judges.

“That’s amazing at any age,” Mandel said.

But Stern turned him down because he felt Greenstein “needed more showmanship.”

The comment elicited boos from the audience and even host Nick Cannon.

Greenstein said in his next appearance he wants an open-back truck with about 20 to 30 people in the back of it.

If he goes further in the competition, the strongman told The Courier he would like to bend iron bars across the bridge of his nose, something he hasn’t done in almost 40 years.

“I feel with my mental capacity I can do it.”

 

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93-year-old Rockaway strongman to appear on ‘America’s Got Talent’


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Craig Blankenhorn/NBC

Don’t let his age fool you.

At 93 years old, 5 feet 4 inches tall and 140 pounds, Rockaway resident Mike “Mighty Atom Jr.” Greenstein can pull a car with his teeth.

He will show off his feats of strength on the Season 9 premiere of “America’s Got Talent” next week.

The grandfather of three and great-grandfather of two is a second-generation strongman.

His father, Joseph, the first “Mighty Atom,” was a Polish immigrant who came to Texas and started working in the oil fields in the early 20th century, where Greenstein was born.

But, Joseph, with a belief that strength was also built from mental ability, a philosophy he passed onto his son, later started performing as a strongman, and became renowned for his act.

Greenstein, along with his four brothers, trained with his father, but he didn’t perform himself until he joined the service during WWII.

After his father performed for the men at a camp in North Carolina where Greenstein was teaching aviation, he was asked if he could do a strongman act.

Remembering his father’s training and borrowing his equipment, Greenstein agreed and continued the shows at other camps and in area towns to raise money for war bonds.

“I enjoyed entertaining and enjoyed the applause,” he said.

Greenstein never made a career out of the act like his father, and went on to be a mechanic for Trans World Airlines and a wedding photographer, but continued to do strongman shows on the side.

Part of his act would include putting chains around his chest and breaking them, lifting weights by hand and his teeth, and bending them across the bridge of his nose. One of the feats he still performs today is pulling cars and trucks with his teeth, which he says are “still his own.”

In recent years, the senior citizen’s strongman abilities have garnered attention through the media. After finding out about his skills, “America’s Got Talent” came calling, and Greenstein went out for an audition.

During the season premiere, at 8 p.m. Tuesday on NBC, he will show off his car-pulling skills in front of judges Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel.

Hosted by Nick Cannon, the reality competition showcases a range of performers, from singers to dancers, to jugglers and magicians. The winner receives a $1 million prize.

“As I grow older I enjoy it more that I can still do certain things,” Greenstein said.

“There is nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it.”

To see how Greenstein did on the “America’s Got Talent” season premiere, click here

 

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‘America’s Got Talent’ comes to Queens


| editorial@queenscourier.com

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“America’s Got Talent” came to Queens College on August 14 to film the act of Slackwire Sam on the college quad. President James Muyskens (standing) joined judges (left to right) Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Melanie Brown and Howie Mandel.

 

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