NBC lets the network games begin Summer 2016

NBC's "America's Got Talent" judges Howie, Mel B, Heidi and host Nick Cannon. (Photo: Chris Haston/NBC)

NBC’s fun-loving America’s Got Talent judges Howie Mandel, Mel B, Heidi Klum, and host Nick Cannon. (Photo: Chris Haston/NBC)

Let the games begin! In addition to broadcasting the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics from Brazil (August 5 to 21), NBC has more competition programing competing for viewers. “Game” shows will rule on the Peacock Network with the top-rated America’s Got Talent returning along with American Ninja Warrior, plus the new athletic and endurance contests: Sylvester Stallone’s Strong and Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge.

The peacock network also has a great scripted series on the schedule, the riveting hospital drama The Night Shift (returning for its third season June 1). And a new comedy-variety show Maya & Marty with Maya Rudolph and Martin Short teaming up for big laughs (debuting May 31).

At NBC’s Summer press day the network’s new lineup was presented at the posh Four Seasons Westlake Village.

The hit variety show America’s Got Talent returns for Season 11 starting May 31. Creator and executive producer Simon Cowell joins the judges panel alongside Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Mel B. The always likable Nick Cannon is back as host, with live shows broadcast from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood this summer.

Star-maker Cowell says he’s proud to bring the variety format back, opening the entertainment search to acts of all ages and talents. There’s a lot of singers this year trying to impress Cowell, along with amazing novelty acts.

With Cowell on the judging panel, Mel B says it’s more fun than ever on the show. “I just love the show. What keeps me coming back is I love to laugh, and you never know what’s going to come out on the stage,” says the former Spice Girl, who reports that the talent this year is crazier and more innovative than anything she’s seen before. In the past, the weirdest thing she ever saw was a guy who put a meat hook through his nose and it came out his mouth. “I turned around, but still kind of wanted to see it. It’s disgusting how somebody could even come up with that,” reports Mel B.

Strong (which debuted April 13) has Sylvester Stallone supporting it as executive producer. The competition show has contestants embarking on a transformative journey in order to reach their full potential. It’s about getting strong as they find the balance between mind and body.

Stallone says he got involved because, “I’ve always been very involved in physical culture, and I just like it. It changed my life, and obviously I’ve done a great deal of it throughout my career. When Dave Broome [The Biggest Loser producer] presented the idea to me, I thought this is just perfect synergy. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s an extraordinary competition.”

The Rocky and Oscar-nominated Creed star added, “Life breaks us all down. Every day gets tougher and every month and every year, and the problems compound. People are at a crossroads, and they say ‘Either I’m just going to go down the drain, I’m going to have life put its foot on my chest, or I’m not going to be broken anymore. I’m going to try to become unbreakable. I’m going to build an armor around myself, a body, a strength, mentally and physically.’ All they need is a format, and this going on television I think people will say, ‘Hey, I can do that.’”

Professional volleyball player and fitness expert Gabrielle Reece hosts the 10-episode series Strong.

"American Ninja Warrior" hosts Matt Iseman, Akbar Gbajabiamila, and Kristine Leahy (Photo: Chris Haston/NBC)

American Ninja Warrior hosts Matt Iseman, Akbar Gbajabiamila, and Kristine Leahy (Photo: Chris Haston/NBC)

The heart-racing obstacle course show American Ninja Warrior returns June 1 for an exciting eighth season. It is unbelievable to watch the grit and determination of firemen, cops, school teachers, and other everyday heroes who tackle the course. “It’s like Don Quixote tilting at windmills. They are taking on the impossible,” says Matt Iseman who hosts, along with former NFL player Akbar Gbajabiamila and lovely co-host Kristine Leahy.

More strongmen and women will be part of the new alternative competition series Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge (starts June 13). It raises the bar on team competitions with groups of friends, families, and co-workers working together as they race across extreme Spartan obstacle courses, engineered to test their determination and endurance.

Tune in and let the games begin.  #

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.