'AGT' Season 17 Starts Production: 'I Could Not Be Any More Excited,' Heidi Klum Says — See First Look

Judges Heidi Klum, Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel and Sofía Vergara are all returning for season 17 with Terry Crews serving as host once again

Season 17 of America's Got Talent is officially underway!

PEOPLE has the first look at the panel of judges with Heidi Klum, Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel and Sofía Vergara all back in Pasadena, California, to kick off production on the new season, which will premiere in late May. Terry Crews is also returning as host.

"I could not be any more excited to be back behind the desk with my AGT family! There is no better feeling than discovering new talent and watching people reach for their dreams," Klum, 48, tells PEOPLE.

Klum and Mandel are marking their ninth (seasons 8-13 and 15-17) and 13th installments (seasons 5-17), respectively. Vergara is starting her third season as a judge.

Cowell, who sported a cast on his left hand following a bike accident, and Crews return to the flagship series after the inaugural America's Got Talent: Extreme series concluded on NBC in March.

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Trae Patton/NBC

The judges also celebrated the first day on set on social media.

"And just like that we r back in the Judges Lounge!!! @agt 🎉🎉🎉 season 17!!!!" Vergara wrote on Instagram, along with a series of photos and videos on her Instagram Story. "Back at work!"

"We're back!" Mandel shared in a selfie video, which also featured Klum, Vergara and Cowell.

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News of production starting comes five weeks after season 16 contestant Jane "Nightbirde" Marczewski's death. The singer, who died on Feb. 29 at age 31 after a years-long battle with cancer, told audiences last summer during her audition that she had a two percent chance of survival due to cancer in her lungs, spine and liver.

Crews previously told PEOPLE he hopes AGT will honor Nightbirde's legacy in the upcoming season.

"The obstacles which she was facing in the middle of all of this and she just showed nothing but happiness, nothing but gratefulness for every moment — it just really reminded me just what life is all about and the fact that she passed, it made me just go, 'My God. She blessed the Earth like an angel would,' and that's all I can say," Crews said. "We love her. The AGT family is truly a family and we were following her throughout this whole thing and she's in Heaven and that's all I can say."

Crews added, "We have a new season of AGT coming up and I think it would be great to do something to just really highlight who she is, what she is. She never stopped making music. She never, ever stopped! You know what I mean? Oh my God, it's just inspirational — and a lesson."

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Season 17 of America's Got Talent premieres May 31 on NBC.

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