'Angel' voice Jackie Evancho advances as 11 million watch

| Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010

Jackie Evancho not only hit the prime time, she is prime time.

Fueled by the 10-year-old Richland singing phenom, "America's Got Talent" became the most-watched television show in America on Tuesday night, drawing about 11 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

A similar number of viewers were expected to watch Wednesday night, when Jackie advanced to the top 10 acts vying for an ultimate prize of $1 million and a headlining show in Las Vegas. She hid her face in her hands when her name was announced.

"I just want to say thank you to America for voting for me, and I also want to thank you, Pittsburgh, because that's my hometown, and I really, really love Pittsburgh," Jackie said.

Piers Morgan, one of the show's three judges, asked Jackie what she would do with the money if she wins the $1 million prize.

"I don't know. I'm hoping that I can spend it on something for animals," Jackie replied.

Locally, about 375,000 Pittsburgh homes tuned in to the talent show Tuesday to watch Jackie's rendition of Andrea Bocelli's classical crossover piece "Time to Say Goodbye." That was the most of any prime-time TV show in Pittsburgh, said Ray Carter, vice president and general manager of WPXI-TV.

"That's a monster number for that kind of show," Carter said. "The little Pine-Richland girl did quite well for us."

Locally, 18 percent of 25- to 54-year-olds watched the show, as did 21 percent of women.

"In a world with 300 channels to choose from, those are big numbers," Carter said.

The live Hollywood audience gave standing ovations to four semifinal performers before Jackie took the stage Tuesday. Hers, though, appeared to be longest -- and loudest.

"This is the best semifinal in five years," Morgan said.

"You're like an angel from another planet," said fellow judge Howie Mandel.

Jackie became America's sweetheart three weeks ago after her initial performance.

Her popularity has soared.

More than 9,500 people indicated they "like" Jackie on her Facebook fan page as of Thursday afternoon, up from about 2,000 three weeks ago. Her 2009 album "Prelude to a Dream," which features mainly cover songs such as "Amazing Grace" and Martina McBride's "Concrete Angel," sold out on Amazon.com. The website did not indicate when more might become available.

Clips of Jackie's performance three weeks ago drew more than 10 million views on YouTube.

At least one record company approached her, according to her family.

None of this surprises Tom Madden, the artistic director for the Kean Theatre in Richland.

Madden, who was a manager and creative director at theaters in Los Angeles, watched in awe when Jackie performed "Time to Say Goodbye" at the Kean Idol singing competition in 2009. She finished second.

"I have a couple judges right now going, 'Whoops,' " Madden said. "I supply top-shelf judges, but I think that one got by them."

Regardless of the show's outcome, the sky is the limit for Jackie, said local entertainment icon Johnny Angel.

"There's such a void for what she's doing," he said. "Maybe our culture will allow (for) a little more classical.

"I'd love to see her at Lincoln Center or at a presidential inauguration."

Additional Information:

What's next?

The top 10 acts perform Tuesday, with a results show Wednesday. The final four compete Sept. 14 for $1 million and a headlining Las Vegas show.

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