Reality Check: Adrian Romoff, 9, gets opening slot on 'America’s Got Talent'

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How much does NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” love Adrian Romoff? Enough to give him the opening slot of its Season 9 premiere this week.

Performing a headbanger version of “Flight of the Bumblebee” on electric piano, the prodigy had judges impressed before even playing a note.

Informed he was already in eighth grade, Heidi Klum asked, “You’re that smart?”

“According to reality, yes,” Adrian replied, matter-of-factly.

Adrian, 9, and precocious as they come, spent the first six years of his young life in Pittsburgh and now lives in Atlanta with his mother, Olga. His is a name well-known in these parts; uncle, Jeffrey, is president and CEO of UPMC.

An aspiring scientist, Adrian was introduced in the opening moments with a feature interview. This was followed by some brief questions and answers with the judges at Madison Square Garden that had everyone in the crowd laughing at his “kids say the darndest things” patter.

“Well, you can see we’re intrigued already,” Ms. Klum said. “... Now, win us over with your music.”

Removing his wire-frame eyeglasses, Adrian launched into a heavily synthesized version of the classic. When he was done, judge Howie Mandel stood up and yelled “Woooo!”

But Howard Stern was not impressed.

“I am utterly and thoroughly confused,” he said, explaining there was so much going on, audibly, it was difficult to assess Adrian’s keyboard skills.

The boy then played a second number: Chopin’s Grande Valse brilliante in E-flat Major, Op. 18.

This time, even Mr. Stern applauded.

Within 12 hours of the show’s 8 p.m. Tuesday broadcast, a YouTube video of Adrian’s performance had close to 25,000 views. By 8 a.m. Thursday, it was 138,000.

Adrian, who has played piano at Carnegie Hall, charmed the audience by just being a kid. With a vocabulary that likely exceeds that of most viewers, he said things like “We don’t need another machine in this world, we need emotions.”

“Your act is not just about playing the piano. It’s about talking to the audience, because man, you had me at ’Hello,’ basically,” said Mel B, the panel’s fourth judge.

If Adrian was the youngest star of the night, native New Yorker Mike Greenstein was the eldest. Mr. Greenstein, 93, was once part of a family strongman act, billed as “The Mighty Atom.”

He brought his “lady friend” along to the audition, which consisted of his pulling a car, occupied by three people, with his teeth.

Mr. Greenstein promised that if he returned, it would be with an open-bed truck, large enough to hold 20 or 30 folks. The judges put him through, so stay tuned.

• The “MasterChef” run of Meadville native Gavin Edmondson was brief, even by reality show standards. One of 30 contestants manning the cook stations when Season 5 of the Fox program debuted on Memorial Day, Mr. Edmondson was the first to go.

Judges announced that during the first cook — signature dishes — they would be cutting a few folks before the hour was up. Although one of the contestants was called out for throwing scraps on the floor but still received an apron, the crime of unsalted food was deemed more offensive.

“Chicken liver, bland!” yelled judge Gordon Ramsay as he tasted Mr. Edmondson’s dish-in-progress. “It’s just not ‘MasterChef.’ ”

• The June 17 premiere of Lifetime’s “Abby’s Studio Rescue” will debut at 8 p.m., one hour earlier than originally announced. Penn Hills studio owner and choreographer Abby Lee Miller will attempt to get struggling businesses back on their figurative toes.

• If the concept of “The Bachelor” is unappealing, perhaps it would be best to quit reading right now.

Here come the brides: “Married at First Sight,” begins July 8 on FYI (formerly, Biography). Six “brave souls” — total strangers — agree to be legally married on the spot. For the next nine episodes, a team of experts (sexologist, spiritualist, psychologist and a sociologist) will guide our newlyweds through.... what, exactly?

According to press materials, couples can opt out with a quickie divorce after several weeks. So, hold off sending those wedding gifts.

Maria Sciullo: or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG.

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