• Sal Valentinetti is a jazz singer known for his performances in the 11th season of “America’s Got Talent” and its spin-off “America’s Got Talent: The Champions”.
• He has recently become engaged to his long-time girlfriend Gianna, and is considering fatherhood.
• The “Got Talent” franchise was created and owned by Simon Cowell’s company SYCOtv and has since spawned spin-offs in over 70 countries.
• Simon was embroiled in a lawsuit filed by former “Britain’s Got Talent” contestant Emma Amelia Pearl Czikai in 2010.
• Simon was also at the center of a potential multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed by former “X Factor” contestants in 2022, and his current relationship with Lauren Silverman caused a scandal due to its origin.
About Sal Valentinetti
Sal is a talented and affable jazz singer known for his performances in the 11th season of “America’s Got Talent” – “AGT”. After finishing the competition in 5th place, he later returned in “AGT: The Champions” but was eliminated at the Preliminaries stage.
Prior to auditioning, Sal worked as a pizza delivery guy at his cousin’s restaurant in Bethpage, New York. In his adolescence, he discovered his talent for singing thanks to Dr. Joseph Merkel, his private music teacher and performer, who was teaching him horn classes at the time. When Dr. Merkel asked Sal to choose a song to play, the latter began singing Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife”, which he used to listen to with his beloved grandmother. Dr. Merkel was understandably impressed, and encouraged Sal to take singing and brass lessons.
Sal’s love for music became stronger after the death of his grandmother. He previously tried out for the 14th season of “American Idol”, but didn’t proceed to the live shows despite a successful audition. By then, the jazz singer was known as “Sal the Voice” by his friends and family, and had made quite a name for himself in the area. Unsurprisingly, his rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” during his first “AGT” audition went viral, and was dubbed one of the best performances in the show’s history.
Thanks to Heidi Klum pressing the Golden Buzzer, Sal went straight to the quarterfinals, where he performed a jazz version of One Direction’s “Story of My Life”. The highlight of the performance was undoubtedly the standing ovation that Sal received from judges Mel B, Simon Cowell and Heidi, as well as most of the audience. Upon being saved in the online voting stage, Sal passed to the semifinals.
After a rousing performance in the semifinals and yet more standing ovations from the judges and public, Sal passed to the finals and received enough votes to be a top five contestant. Sadly, he was beaten by Grace VanderWaal, The Clairvoyants, Jon Dorenbos, and Brian Justin Crim, despite being slated to win by many.
Moving on to “AGT: The Champions”, Sal performed “Mack the Knife” but didn’t receive enough votes to pass to the next stage of the contest. Since then, his career has gone somewhat quiet, and many fans are wondering what Sal is up to these days. After performing “New York, New York” at the 2022 Belmont Stakes, Sal has rarely been seen, and there have even been rumors about his possible hiatus from music.
Although Sal has yet to announce future projects, his personal life is taking on a new direction, as he recently celebrated his engagement to long-time girlfriend Gianna. After several years of dating, the lovebirds threw an intimate engagement party in October 2022, of which they later shared snippets on Instagram and other social media platforms.
It’s possible that fatherhood is also in Sal’s plans, as the singer is a family-orientated guy who dotes on his godchildren, and regularly posts them on his Instagram profile. Sal and Gianna have yet to announce that they are interested in expanding their family unit, but we can confirm that wedding plans are well underway with a possible spring or summer 2023 date. As for musical gigs, Sal isn’t currently performing or recording any material, preferring to spend his time with family and friends.
“Got Talent” Franchise
The famous talent show TV format “AGT” was created and owned by Simon Cowell’s company SYCOtv, and has since spawned spin-offs in over 70 countries, and counting. Setting itself apart from “Idol” and “The X Factor”, the contestants on “Got Talent” display a range of skills that aren’t limited to singing.
In early 2014, the Guinness World Records named the “AGT” the most successful reality TV format in history. It was created in 2005 by Simon, who had also conceived and was a judge in “The X Factor” at the time. The roots of the format trace back to “Opportunity Knocks” and “New Faces”, British talent shows whose contestants ranged from acrobats and novelty acts to singers, dancers and comedians.
Simon first pitched the concept to ITV, who agreed to a pilot episode and when it proved successful, later began producing a season of the show for British TV. However, ITV’s involvement with “Got Talent” ended temporarily after a dispute with the show’s intended host. Simon then promoted his idea to American networks, with a season being picked up by NBC for its summer 2006 broadcast schedule.
Season one of “AGT” debuted in June 2006 and was the franchise’s first international edition. NBC commissioned further seasons and launched the franchise on an international level in Australia, Russia, Sweden, France, and other countries. Simon would then return to the UK to continue production with ITV prior to the “Britain’s Got Talent” June 2007 debut.
When “Britain’s Got Talent” took several accolades home at the BAFTA television awards of 2010, Simon gave his opinion regarding a hypothetical global version of the franchise, which would be named “World’s Got Talent”. Simon argued that the typical “Got Talent” format wouldn’t work, proposing instead a commentary format similar to that of Eurovision Song Contest. More details were announced over the following days, as Simon explained that 20 winning contestants of “Got Talent” franchises from around the world would perform at the Royal Albert Hall for an attractive £1 million prize.
Although “World’s Got Talent” had an intended airdate of 2011, Simon deferred his plans for the series, as it would clash with his judging schedule on “BGT” and “The X Factor USA”. The latter show was cancelled by Fox network in February 2014, due to its low ratings and Simon’s decision to return to its UK version.
Later in 2014, ITV broadcast a spin-off series named “Planet’s Got Talent”, showing clips from the franchise’s different shows around the globe. An unofficial spin-off series named “World’s Got Talent” was produced by Hunan Television in 2019, sharing its copyright with Fremantle and featuring over 60 notable acts from franchise contestants from different countries. YouTube channels affiliated to the franchise include “Got Talent Global” – which uploads worldwide clips from “Got Talent” shows, and boasts 13 million subscribers – and “Top Talent”, which does the same, but includes clips from the “Idol” and “X Factor” franchises.
“AGT: The Champions” also premiered on NBC in 2019, and featured notable contestants from different countries.
Although Simon is hailed as a business mogul and savvy record executive, the London native has seen himself caught up in plenty of scandals and controversies, many of which have been largely forgotten about. Known for his acid tongue and sarcastic putdowns, he was perhaps unsurprisingly hit with a lawsuit in 2010 filed by Emma Amelia Pearl Czikai, a disgruntled contestant of “BGT”.
Emma, who claimed to have been humiliated and degraded by Simon in her $3.8 million lawsuit, said that the TV personality was responsible for broadcasting her audition clip, despite her writing to explain that her performance was affected by health problems.
At a pre-hearing review that took place in London in 2010, Emma explained that she had filed the lawsuit to maintain her “self-respect and dignity”. Her performance of the Westlife hit “You Raise Me Up” was apparently affected by cervical spine neuritis, a painful ailment that causes the sufferer’s body to swell up.
Simon and fellow judge Piers Morgan immediately hit the buzzers before Emma had sung the first line of the song, while Amanda Holden waited until the chorus to do so. When Emma asked if she could start again, Simon buzzed her out and the audience began booing her loudly. According to news outlets, Emma also claimed that the show discriminated her disability by not lowering the volume of the microphone levels and backing track.
During the court appearance, Emma said that the show “makes a select number of rich people very, very rich on the backs of the ordinary man and woman in the street through exploitation, humiliation, degradation and a re-emergence of modern-day barbarism with all its inherent cruelty.” It was confirmed in September 2010 that Emma’s case would not make it to an employment tribunal, given that Simon was not her employer, and taking into account the time that had lapsed since the incident.
In summer 2022, it was confirmed that various former “X Factor” contestants would be filing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Simon’s production company. The source, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Sunday Mirror that she and five other contestants were discussing the lawsuit with a legal firm, and alluded to “bullying, mistreatment, and neglect”.
“We lost a lot of money from having periods of our lives not making money to deal with trauma still ingrained from the show,” the source said, adding that many contestants were sleep-deprived and in tears before performances. Meanwhile, SyCo asked The Mirror to clarify that there were no allegations of Simon himself being aware of, or involved in, the incidents described by the source.
— Simon Cowell (@SimonCowell) September 14, 2022
A source close to the case informed The Mirror that “dozens” of claimants could come out of the woodwork, and the lawyers believed that the contestants had a strong case. As of January 2023, news outlets have gone silent regarding the possible lawsuit, and it remains to be seen if the contestants will have their day in court.
Despite Simon’s personal life being irrelevant to his TV franchises, he was embroiled in yet another scandal when the origins of his latest relationship were revealed. It’s well-documented that Simon met his current fiancée Lauren Silverman at a sunny Barbados resort in 2004, when she was vacationing with her husband at the time, the real estate magnate Andrew Silverman.
Simon and Andrew soon struck up a cordial relationship, with sources claiming that the record executive already had his eye on Lauren despite her being married. Over the next few years, Simon dated entertainment journalist Terri Seymour, make-up pro Mezhgan Hussainy, and others, and was even engaged to Mezhgan from 2010 to 2011, which was called off..
Simon then began secretly dating Lauren, a glamorous New York City socialite in her mid-40s. The clandestine affair continued until Lauren became pregnant in 2013, and the couple were forced to go public with their relationship. Her husband filed for divorce shortly afterwards, citing adultery as the main reason, and in November of that year, the couple were officially broken up. One stipulation in the divorce settlement banned Simon from being near the couple’s son until January 2015, or risk paying a five-figure penalty.
Lauren and Simon welcomed their son Eric, on Valentine’s Day 2014. However, the happiness of Eric’s birth was overshadowed by public opinion regarding the couple’s relationship. “It’s not something I am proud of, or wanted to happen in terms of hurting anyone. It just happened,” Simon eloquently explained in a rare interview.
Luckily, various news outlets claim that Simon and Andrew have buried the hatchet since then. Bringing their love story full circle, Simon proposed to Lauren in December 2021 at the very same resort where they first met – with both Eric and Adam present. The couple have weathered many storms together, including outrageous rumors that Simon was cheating on Lauren with singer Mel B, and other salacious tales.
Simon and Lauren while stoping for a break on their chairty walk in london last thursday ❤️
From having a nasty fallout with his ex Sinitta, when she confessed online to having aborted his child, to candidly discussing his fling with Danii Minogue and schoolboy crush on Cheryl Cole, Simon’s love life has been anything but dull. Despite having slowed down considerably in that aspect, the TV heavyweight remains as active as ever in the entertainment industry, and is currently judging on “AGT: All-Stars”.
Although season 18 of “AGT” has yet to be confirmed, it’s believed that an announcement will come in February or March 2023, given that the 16th and 17th seasons of the talent competition were announced in February 2021 and March 2022 respectively. As for the season premieres, these typically take place in late May or early June. For now, fans of the “Got Talent” franchise can enjoy viewing “AGT: All-Stars”.