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‘The World’s Best’ racked up serious frequent flyer mileage for acts

It takes more than a village to pull together an episode of “The World’s Best.”

CBS’ new talent competition series, hosted by James Corden, features acts from around the world — including, in last week’s premiere, Enkh Erdene from Mongolia, who croons American country music in perfect English (but speaks no English); Manami Ito, a one-armed Japanese violinist; and TNT, a Filipino Boy Band.

They’re judged by the “Wall of the World” — 50 international experts across many entertainment genres who complement US judges Faith Hill, RuPaul Charles and Drew Barrymore.

“The World’s Best” was taped over a month-long period last fall (October into November) at CBS studios in LA — but was 14 months in the making.

Manami Ito (left), a one-armed violinist from Japan, and Filipino Boy Band TNT and on "The World's Best."
Manami Ito (left), a one-armed violinist from Japan, and Filipino Boy Band TNT on “The World’s Best.”Monty Brinton/CBS

“We booked over 350 international flights for the show, and the amount of travel for the talent and the international experts was over 3 million miles,” says Alison Holloway, one of the show’s executive producers. “We looked around the globe to find the best [talent] and looked at all the talent shows [on television] across the world … and searched for what we thought was the best of the best.” Producers found Erdene on “Mongolia’s Got Talent,” but not every act showcased on “The World’s Best” was found on TV, including Ito, who lost an arm in a traffic accident. “She was an act I saw on a very short piece of tape and when I saw her I couldn’t believe what she was doing,” says Holloway. “She’s a nurse, and we went to the province [in Japan] we thought she lived in to find her. She was absolutely blown away.

“The number of time zones we had to deal with and the number of languages … we have scouts on the ground all across the world and a small army of interpreters to help communicate with the acts,” she says. “Most of [the acts] don’t speak English. We have a very determined, small team in our casting department in LA.”

Holloway says it was a “massive undertaking” to bring all the international experts (representing 38 countries) to the “World’s Best” soundstage. “One expert, Kate Henshaw from Nigeria, is an award-winning actress and we didn’t know if she was getting on the plane just hours before the taping because of visa requirements to get her into the country,” she says. “It was important that our experts could speak and understand English and be able to understand what the American judges were saying, what each other were saying … so they could make their decisions instantly.

“TV moves very fast and they had to be able to keep up.”

Each expert sits in an individual pod with surround sound and a camera (there are 68 cameras in total). “We have the biggest LED stage in Hollywood and well over 1,000 video tiles that can change at the flick of a switch,” Holloway says. “And James is effortless in his comedy.

“The respect and love he has for the acts is undeniable.”

“The World’s Best” airs 8 p.m. Wednesday and moves to 9 p.m. Wednesday starting Feb. 20.

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