INTERVIEW: Jennifer Nettles judges TBS’s “The Go-Big Show” with extreme acts

Jennifer Nettles (center) is one of the judges of TBS's "The Go-Big Show." Photo: TBS
Jennifer Nettles (center) is one of the judges of TBS's "The Go-Big Show." Photo: TBS

Credit: TBS

Credit: TBS

Former Atlantan Jennifer Nettles is a bonafide country star, both solo and with her group Sugarland. She’s been an actor (e.g. ’Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors,” “Harriet”) and a host (e.g. ”CMA Country Christmas”).

During the pandemic, she was offered something new: become a celebrity judge for a reality competition show. But she wasn’t judging singers.

TBS’s “The Go-Big Show” is basically “America’s Got Talent” minus the singers and dancers. Instead, it’s just the more extreme acts: the acrobats, the sword swallowers, the magicians, the animal wranglers and the body manipulation. It was shot during the pandemic last year at the Macon Coliseum.

Nettles found the job offer super enticing, especially after months of quarantine.

“This is something people really need,” said Nettles in a Zoom interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “During this time when our world has gotten so small, it’s fun to just watch all these acts go so big.”

And yes, there were even monster trucks. As a Southerner, Nettles has seen many monster truck shows and even sang the National Anthem at one earlier in her career.

The lack of a live audience wasn’t ideal, she said: “I do miss that energy.” The producers instead had spectators in their cars in the parking lot watching the acts from big screens in a socially-distant, safe way.

Besides Nettles, the celebrity judges are hip-hop legend and executive producer Snoop Dogg, actress Rosario Dawson (”Sin City,” “The Mandalorian”) and pro wrestler Cody Rhodes. Comic Bert Kreischer hosts.

The judges “were kind of like ‘The Breakfast Club,’” she said. “We have these distinct, different personalities. We could totally go to study detention and have a great time together. I had such a blast getting to know each of them.”

Snoop, an executive producer, “is super, super cool and super, super high. And he’s super, super talented!” (She said she wouldn’t mind collaborating with him down the road musically.)

She hadn’t known Rhodes very well but grew up with his dad, the legendary wrestler Dusty Rhodes. “Cody was a gentleman,” she said.

She admired Dawson not only for her acting skills but her activism: “She’s done so much work in terms of voting and especially within the Latino population.”

The show debuted earlier this month to passable ratings for TBS.

Like “AGT,” sometimes the acts need the judges to volunteer themselves. So, Nettles said she got super close to an exotic animal and a strong man.

But there was one rule that bugged her: if two acts ended up with the same score, the host would flip a coin to decide who would move forward. “I didn’t like it,” she said. “We would rather they had just put both acts through. But it wasn’t our decision.”

Nettles, by the way, has plenty of music set to come out in 2021 and is psyched to hit the road later in the year. She has planning to release a Broadway record and a Spanish/English collaboration.

HOW TO WATCH

“The Go-Big Show,” 8 p.m. Thursdays, TBS

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