The photo was shown nationwide in a taped video bit as country singer Poe explained to judges Howard Stern, Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel that he stutters as a result of an injury he sustained in 2009 during a blast in Afghanistan. Questions about him arose not long after the broadcast when no records turned up of his injury. After that, a report surfaced that the photo of the soldier on patrol in Afghanstan was actually Bone, not Poe.
The production company says the photo was provided by Poe.
“We sincerely apologize to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Norman Bone for using a photo of him in our story on Tim Poe,” A Fremantle spokesman said in a statement. “It was supplied to us by Tim and used on the show in good faith. It has now been removed and will not be used again."
“Talent” exec producer Jason Raff said in a radio interview this week that they don’t screen auditioners because they get “thousands of people who audition” and “we have to take them on their word.”
On the other hand, he also said in that interview that the show is achieving new series high ratings, which it is not in households or among 18-49 year olds —the two ratings parameters he mentioned. That’s partly due to the fact that NBC this edition debuted the show in the heat of the May sweep, when it faced stiff competition, rather than waiting for the summer, as with past editions.
During the interview, Raff said he can’t speak to where Poe is in the competition “because he hasn’t been eliminated on TV yet,” but promised “viewers will find out what has happened to him.”