Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Judging Howard Stern

I don’t know Howard Stern. I only met him once. We were both at a Bar Mitzvah. He wasn’t at my table. Paula Abdul was. (This was before AMERICAN IDOL and by the time the salads were served I was thinking, “Poor girl. She’ll never work again.”)

Howard and I were both disc jockeys who made career stops in Detroit. He was at WWWW (playing Layla every half hour) and I was at WDRQ (playing Seasons in the Sun every ten minutes). 

I thought I was edgy on the air. Double entendres over record intros. “Here’s Olivia Newton-hyphen-John. Boy I’d love to bust her hyphen.” -- that sort of high art. But Howard was far edgier. He’d hassle Scotland Yard, destroy a foreign car, pull outrageous stunts. I give him credit. He was willing to stick his neck out.

Since then of course, he has gone on to become the self-proclaimed King of All Media. Unlike Paula’s success, I was not surprised for a minute.

Back in the ‘90s I used to listen to Howard every morning when he was on the real radio. Once he jumped to satellite I lost touch. But two things reminded me of Howard recently.

I’ve been doing radio interviews for my book and have been on a few Morning Zoo programs. As these teams of three or four chuckleheads try to be funny and provocative all I could think was, “What a bunch of idiots! These morons couldn’t carry Howard Stern’s Altoids tin.”

The other reminder was catching him as a judge on AMERICA’S GOT A LOT OF GALL CALLING THIS TALENT. (That’s the first time I ever saw that show, incidentally. Holy shit! Midgets who belt out notes off key, a group that does light shows with colored flashlight. It’s Cirque du Insane.)

But all you have to do is watch Howard on that panel for five minutes to see why he has become such a mega success. Face it, you have three opportunists at that judges table. There’s Sharon Osbourne, a woman with utterly no talent other than the ability to promote herself. What got her to where she is? She’s married to a vegetable and managed to exploit the exposure into a career as a national celebrity. She’s even on the Columbia Broadcasting System every morning offering her opinions on the news. We’re so far beyond Paddy Chayefsky’s NETWORK that we can no longer even see it in the rearview mirror.

Next to her is Howie Mandel – a has-been comedian who lucked into hosting an inane game show that became a hit for exactly five minutes and from that he’s a television personality again. Seriously, the revival of his career is his ability to say, “Pick a briefcase.”

And then there’s Howard. After years of relative obscurity on satellite radio (for which he was paid the equivalent of the National Debt) he’s decided to once again claim some national exposure and for good measure, he got someone to pony up $10 million for the privilege.

The reason Howard stands out on the panel, the reason he has had such a meteoric rise in radio continually leaving his imitators and competitors in the dust, the reason he’s been able to star in a major Hollywood motion picture even with his nose, and the reason he is probably approaching billionaire status by now is this…

He is smarter than everyone else.

Listen to him on AMERICA’S GOT TALENT (?). A far cry from my Bar Mitzvah table mate. This is the high level of constructive criticism we’re used to: “You can kick it, dawg!” “I don’t know, sweetheart. It just didn’t work for me.” Howard is articulate, insightful, and gives specific feedback to each contestant. And when he gets into tiffs with Mandel it’s like a battle of wits with an unarmed man. Stern destroys him every single time.

Is the feud calculated? Probably. Again, it’s Howard’s savvy. All of his feuds are calculated. The FCC. Leno. Imus. Ellen. Rosie. Dr. Laura. Sherri Shepherd. Andy Dick. When you see that list it’s hard not to take his side. (Would somebody ask if he has time to add Whitney?)

He knows how to generate controversy. He knows how to get attention. And he knows how to win. Oh, and one other tiny thing: Howard Stern is very funny. It’s not just shock value. It’s not just recreating the hilarity of your junior high locker room. He is way funnier than these Morning Zoo buffoons. If he had gone into sitcom writing instead of radio he’d be Larry David today. If he wrote for Broadway he’d be Trey Parker & Matt Stone. If he went into sketch comedy he’d be a very ugly Tina Fey.

Not every bit works (despite Robin’s uncontrollable toady laughter at every single thing he says), and I think he’s on too many hours every day. I’m sure he knows that but when Sirius/XM is paying him Fort Knox it’s a trade-off I’m sure he’s willing to make.

People dismiss Howard as just a shock jock. And I’m sure I’m going to get a bunch of comments saying he’s lame, he’s brutal, he’s not funny, he’s just crass. But look what happened when he left terrestrial radio. CBS had an entire year to replace him… and could choose from anyone in the country. Any morning man, any “zoo keeper”, any stand-up comic, any TV star, any hotshot blogger. And after a year-long exhaustive search they selected David Lee Roth and Adam Carolla. How’d that work out for them?

He may not still be the King of All Media (I wouldn’t be surprised if NBC has less of an audience these days than satellite radio), and you may think he’s an ass, but he’s a SMART ass. And I say that with genuine respect.

62 comments:

Ben Kubelsky said...

I have been saying this for years, but his wit and talent ate, for most people, cloaked in too-much "Beastality Dial-a-Date.". And that's why he polarizes listeners and has to fight for respectability.

That Neil Guy said...

"We’re so far beyond Paddy Chayefsky’s NETWORK that we can no longer even see it in the rearview mirror."

This is a fantastic line. And sadly, very, very true.

Bryan CastaƱeda said...

>>And after a year-long exhaustive search they selected David Lee Roth and Adam Carolla.

Howard is actually a huge fan of Carolla. Adam was Howard's first choice to replace Jackie. Carolla turned it down b/c he didn't wanna move to NY.

Dupree said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
amariew said...

He has cut down his hours. He only is on the air 6-10 (pretty hard out now a days), three times a week (M-W). When he first started at Sirius, he was on 6-11:30ish 5 days a week.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

I agree. He's a smarty, usually saying things I hadn't thought of...things I'd be too afraid to say if I were in his chair.

That's Entertainment, 2012

Jeff Badge said...

(Note: this is not about Howard Stern.)

I just came across this article on the BBC about the actors trashing the writers on their show:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-19331320

There are some choice quotes from actor and writer alike. I thought you might enjoy :)

Klee said...

I also stopped listening to Howard once he went to paid radio. However, I still listen to some of his shows on YouTube and he's still as funny and insightful as he ever was! I don't watch this TV show but I know he surely can tell if someone is talented or not.

MikeN said...

Sex and the City got all the critical raves, but what is the difference between that and Howard Stern?

Nick said...

Howard playing himself and giving Paul Giamatti one of his first memorable roles in PRIVATE PARTS still holds up as one of the good comedies (AND THE BEST biopic) of the 90s.

Aside: dwarfs generally detest being called "midget". It's like the N-word to them. The pc term "little person / people" sounds derogatory, yet is their official term. Not up to us "average people" to decide.

Sean in NOCal said...

Speaking of "shock jocks", have you ever had any run ins with Don Geronimo? The guy's been in radio forever and is on in Sacramento now. I've listened to Don for almost 15 years and he seems to know everyone who was in old time radio.

F. Jackie Abraham said...

A lot of people are repelled by Stern because of the boobs and the farts and the rotating regulars with some form of mental or physical damage. But he's a classic comedian, and sometimes classical -- you can't listen to him for an hour before you hear him say something with the cadence of Bob Hope, or Woody Allen, or MAD Magazine. Chris Rock has said that if Howard Stern produced 90 minutes of material a year instead of a thousand hours, he'd be the greatest standup who ever lived and it wouldn't be close.

Anonymous said...

"he'd be a very ugly Tina Fey..."

Sorry, but I'd don't agree that he, as you imply, would look exactly like Tina Fey.

Anonymous said...

Well said Ken. Howard is not only talented but shrewd as well. He knows who he is and understands what he brings to the party. I understand he's not everyone's cup of tea but for millions, he's a welcome visitor to their lives every day. His impact on radio cannot be denied. That he's successfully transplanted himself to television should come as no surprise.

chuckcd said...

I agree. People may not enjoy his type of humor, but the man has a mind as sharp as a tack.
Howard is always out front, and everyone else is trying to catch up.

LA Nuts book (Joe Dungan) said...

"We’re so far beyond Paddy Chayefsky’s NETWORK that we can no longer even see it in the rearview mirror."

I have a DVD of NETWORK. I watch it for the nostalgia.

jackscribe said...

I always enjoyed Howard on broadcast radio and agree with your assessment of his exceptional contributions on AGT. His strength is to play off other people - in this case, Howie and Sharon. The 'queen' behind the throne on radio was Robin. When she was not present, Howie was in a lower gear.

buster said...

Howard is one of the two best interviewers on the planet (the other being Terri Gross of NPR's Fresh Air). Your comments are right on target. The guy is a genius.

Bill said...

>>>Aside: dwarfs generally detest being called "midget". It's like the N-word to them. The pc term "little person / people" sounds derogatory, yet is their official term. Not up to us "average people" to decide.

Really? Was there a convention, and they took a vote on their "official" position? Or is this just what "average people" have decided out of an avoidance of infringing on any sensibilities whatsoever? Which is more degrading--referring to them by an arbitrary label (dwarf and/or midget), or implying that they are "non-average"?

This reminds me of the supposed prohibition by well-meaning white folks against the word "American Indian," when the most recent surveys show that more of such individuals prefer to be called that than "Native American."

Anonymous said...

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Bob Summers said...

Let us not forget the time Air Florida flight 90 crashed into the Potomac river shortly after takeoff from National Airport in D.C. The next day, Stern called and asked how much was a one way ticket from National to the bridge.

JT Anthony said...

He's sharp, witty and says things the rest of us don't have the guts to say in public.

As far as respectability goes: what makes him popular on the radio is also what makes him a nasty guy, i.e., that someone has to be devalued almost completely as his punch line.

Lastly, he's popular in his limited world of superficial pop culture. Rarely do we hear him opine on important things, so the endorsement has to be a little tempered with context. By the way, the tallest midget I know just agreed with me.

XJill said...

This made me feel better about liking Stern. I've been a Howard fan since I saw Private Parts "back in the day," and he is indeed very smart.

I've been watching AGT for the first time this season because of him and is it SO AWFUL/AWESOME. I haven't been able to tune in since the Olympics because that two weeks got me off the AGT pipe. But seriously, WHAT IS THAT SHOW.

I will happily write a guest blog of the final two weeks if you'd like.

Douchebag007 said...

I love #AGT because of Howard's beautful and obviously natural hair and his even more natural choppers

Magnifique!

Donald said...

I agree about Sharon and Howie, but Ozzie a vegetable? My son just saw him at Lollapalooza and said he's still got it.

Scott Miller said...

Mind if I use the Olivia Newton-John line tomorrow morning?

Cap'n Bob said...

Being a dwarf and being a midget are two different conditions. Generally, a dwarf has a large head and stunted limbs while a midget's body is in proportion but is very short.

As for Stern, I was sorry to see him go to subscription radio because I don't subscribe. Some of his antics on the TV broadcast were crass and juvenile, but when he was funny he was great.

Cap'n Bob said...

Oh, by the way, I happened to see AMERICA'S GOT TALENT about a week ago, for the first and only time, and agree with your assessment, Ken. We old-timers remember a show called TED MACK'S ORIGINAL AMATEUR HOUR, which later morphed into THE GONG SHOW, and now has an incarnation as AGT. Same idea, different staging.

cshel said...

I like Howard Stern himself, I think he's really funny and smart, outside of his milieu. But I've never liked any of Howard Stern's shows, or his crew. Not because it's offensive, I'm just not his target audience, so I find it boring and dumb, for the most part.

I watched AGT for the first, and only, time just to see him. But even he didn't make me want to watch again. I thought maybe I'd tune in at the end, after the chaff was removed. Maybe I missed it already.

I'd like to see him do his own somewhat more mainstream, not so raunchy TV show, but I have no idea what that would be.

RCP said...

I remember listening to Howard when he was on WWDC in Washington, D.C. around 1980-1 and finding him and Robin hilarious in their best moments. When I caught up with them again in NYC in the mid-'80s, I was taken aback at how nasty the tone had become. Once in a while Howard himself would pull back and I'd get the sense that that was the real guy - decent and intelligent - but I eventually lost interest in listening.

Nixon said...

I gained a lot of respect for Howard after seeing his movie and reading his book.
A lot of young guys, when they get into radio, suddenly develop a 'radio accent' ("Q-naughty-two-fahv")and Howard was having a hard time with the phony DJ bit. His wife at the time told him he was best when he was himself. So he became the first, and best, at being a regular guy, complete with the stuff regular guys like: side show type characters, burps, farts, dirty language and plenty of large breasts. He started saying what we were all thinking. And he had the courage to stay with it while being told to knock it off. Most people would do what their superior told them to do out of fear of losing their job. But as we saw in his movie, Howard handled it by challenging these guys and doing things like playing password in his own special way and turning the speakers into a vibrator. He came out on top because he generated money and the possibility of making lots of it quickly cast aside what was formerly considered to be the rules of good taste.
So, same goes with his abilities as a judge. I think he's really good at it because he's a regular guy being honest about what he is thinking.

Nathan said...

I was the Location Manager on Private Parts and I can tell you...the man has a work ethic that makes Mother Teresa look like a slacker. During production, he was on the air every morning -- I think they replaced the last hour every morning with clips from old shows -- and then he'd show up in the studio or on location immediately after.

At one point, he had a persistent flu for a couple of weeks (possibly complicated by ebola and ass cancer) and we never lost a day due to it. He'd be sitting on set looking like yesterday's toast pulled out of the trash and when the camera rolled -- he was on. I challenge you to find a scene in the movie where you can tell just how sick he was.

D. McEwan said...

I have never been able to bear Stern long enough to develop an informed opinion on him. Perhaps all you say about him is true; I'll never know. Too repellant to listen to. The best thing about The King of All Media (Though he's not a movie star, and this is as close to TV success has he's ever come) is that watching or listening to him remains voluntary. I will continue to skip him. He won't lose any sleep over it.

And really, how hard is it to look and sound good when you're surrounded by Sharon Osbourne, Howie Mandel and a lot of amateur acts of surpassing awfullness? It's easy to be the smartest person in the room when the room's other occupants are all chimps.

danrydell said...

I disagree with much of your assessment, Ken. I think Howard is smart, knows exactly what he's doing, but his army of followers are morons, and he too often resorts to the worst common denominator. It might be intelligent muck, but it's still muck.

It gets really old listening to him ask dimwits who they've had sex with.

FonHom said...

Howard the interviewer is on a par with Barbara Walters. Anyone can ask the questions, but those two get the answers. And his original TV show in the early 90s was genius, classic comedy/variety. It beat SNL in the DC & NY markets. I loved the bumper graphics with the names of celebs they'd tried to get on the radio show and the lame/insulting turndowns from their people. Wish it was available, I think Stern says WOR won't negotiate.

Dixie Chick Natalie Maines' Twitter page says "If you don't like Howard Stern then you shouldn't follow me." Kind of how I feel, but I'd rather wear 'em down and win 'em over.

chalmers said...

I remember Howard had Tony Danza on once. They got to talking about Andy Kaufman and how a lot of people believed he was faking his illness.

Danza starts into the familiar narrative saying, “I was in Cedars-Sinai and someone told me Andy was there…”

When anyone else would have let the same old anecdote play itself out, Howard saw an opening and broke in, “Wait, why were you in the hospital?”

Danza tried to go back to the anecdote, but you could hear in his voice that he was thrown , “Oh, it was nothing, as for Andy...”

Howard wasn’t having any of it. He cut him off again, “Forget Andy, you were young, in great shape, what was going on?”

The result was a much funnier, never-before aired admission that Tony needed a little medical help coping with the results of the epic carousing that he and Jeff Conaway engaged in during the early “Taxi” years.

Anyone else would have missed it, but Howard listens to his guests, and for all his juvenile antics, he is a student of great radio.

When he’s engaged, he’s like a master surgeon extracting the most possible entertainment from his guest.

normadesmond said...

i agree, but won't waste my time watching his show.

DwWashburn said...

Everyone to their own opinion, but I think Stern "jumped the shark" when he made his movie. On his show, he talked about his life. His book put that talk in printed form. Then to enter the film world, he does the same thing.

That was the problem with Stern in his last years on free radio. His show was the same thing over and over again. No originality.

So when he went to pay radio, I saw no reason to follow him. I could play a recording of his show from fifteen years ago and probably hear everything he was going to say on the current one.

Eddie said...

Howard is funny, smart...and a real-deal broadcaster.

Lorimartian said...

Stern is articulate, smart, and savvy. Sadly, his tv show was a train wreck. I've often wondered if, after demeaning every female in his path, did he then go home and treat his wife and daughters with respect? Especially his daughters. What horrible modeling for your children, ESPECIALLY your female children. If it's all an act, it's repugnant. Obviously he found people who were willing to be abused (can only imagine THEIR issues), but did he rationalize it by saying it's okay to mistreat people in the name of "entertainment" and then be kind and nurturing to his family? I hope the kids came out of it okay. I shudder to think what kind of men they're attracted to. If they developed any real feelings of empathy, sympathy, and compassion, we must probably credit their mother. The fact that Robin egged him on made it all the more disturbing. Yuck!

JCD said...

D said, "And really, how hard is it to look and sound good when you're surrounded by Sharon Osbourne, Howie Mandel and a lot of amateur acts of surpassing awfullness? It's easy to be the smartest person in the room when the room's other occupants are all chimps."

I've always felt this way about his career in radio. I agree that he's smart and funny, but his real talent might be that, just like Uncle Milty, he puts himself in situations where he only has to pull out enough to win.

Mike Schryver said...

Bill has an accurate point about PC-ness as it applies to "Native American". It's been imposed on native people or "American Indians" by us White Liberals.
Even worse, it complicates the meaning of the word native, which in the past could have meant "born here". I'm a native American, but not a Native American, and I don't know how to speak in capital letters.

When I've heard Indians speak, they use the term "Indian" far more often than "Native American", and the word "tribal" or their tribe's name much more often than either of those.

Can't speak in the case of little poeple, but know that this has happened with some groups.

Unknown said...

Stern has sucked since the 90s, its just nobody has had the balls to tell him hes horrible.

Cecil Newson said...

Howard Stern got his start by stealing bits from Steve Dahl.

D. McEwan said...

"Lorimartian said...
I've often wondered if, after demeaning every female in his path, did he then go home and treat his wife and daughters with respect? Especially his daughters. What horrible modeling for your children, ESPECIALLY your female children. If it's all an act, it's repugnant."


I must agree. I don't doubt that Howard has talent, and obviously he's smart, but the word "repugnant" describes him best.

And I've seen his fan base, and would be loathe to find myself among them.

Mike Barer said...

When the Howard Stern show started running in the Seattle area, he had a local news conference.
One media lightweight, whose name I'll mention off line tried to grill him. Howard made him look like a total jackass.

Johnny Walker said...

"We’re so far beyond Paddy Chayefsky’s NETWORK that we can no longer even see it in the rearview mirror."

Haha! This cracked me up.

I'm not sure how I feel about Stern. I guess I'm in the camp who doesn't respect him. I've seen him rip into too many guests. I remember on one of his shows he agreed to let a recently bereaved young woman sing a song she wrote, provided she was naked when she did it. When she came on the show he make derisive comments about her body and her recently deceased husband.

I respect intelligence. I respect wit. I don't respect abuse.

muphasta said...

For those of you who say he wasn't a movie star, nor did he have a TV career, you surely don't know anything about him. His "Channel 9" show was #1 in the markets it was shown in, his movie was #1, the soundtrack to the movie was #1, his books were all "Best Sellers", and he was #1 in most if not all of his markets for radio. He has been #1 in every form of media that exists.

A Non-Emus said...

I think it's tasteless to bring people's children into things. You make not like Stern's brand of comedy but he's not doing anything illegal. It sickens me when people imply that he treated his little children the same way he treated grown and willing women or that his children are somehow damaged by having this horrible monster as their father. I just read an interview with his daughter Emily and she seems like a very intelligent, well-adjusted young lady. His children are all adults now and all of the nasty predictions that his children would grow up to be this or that have proven untrue.

Bob Summers, the Air Florida story is actually a legend that has been twisted over the years. They played the actual audio on the show years ago. He wasn't actually on the phone with anyone when he made the "One way ticket" comment. He started that morning by sarcastically saying "Yeah, Air Florida, is the 14th Street Bridge gonna be a permanent stop?!" and he was saying it out of anger at the airline. He later called Air Florida and yelled at an employee but he didn't make that comment to her. True, yelling at an employee who had nothing to do with it didn't solve anything. But it's somewhat understandable.

D. McEwan said...

"muphasta said...
For those of you who say he wasn't a movie star, nor did he have a TV career, you surely don't know anything about him."


His ONE movie was #1 the week it came out. That's not a movie star. A movie star stars in multiple movies. They have a body of movie work. Howard is NOT a movie star. Studios offer movie stars roles because they believe they can open a movie. Playing yourself in one movie and never getting another movie is not a movie star. It's been 15 years; where's Howard's second movie? He just made the one, and it is utterly forgotten by all but the creatures that love him.

One can make an argument that he is a TV star now, thanks (or "blames) solely to America's
Got Talent
though that show was a success (for no known reason) long before Howard was brought in.

The fact is that Howard is not an actor, and has, to use Dame Edna's words: "A face made for radio."

"A Non-Emus said...
I think it's tasteless to bring people's children into things."


Try tellng that to Stern, because he clearly believes that there's no such thing as "off-limits", and frankly, if you call something "tasteless," Stern will say: "I'm there!" Howard doesn't get to protect himself by using the very same rules of decency he himself regularly and intentionally violates.

And frankly, where someone as ugly as Howard gets off criticizing other people's looks and bodies is beyond me.

Doktor Frank Doe said...

AND... What is CBS radio now anyway? No more talk, just canned crappy ham. The whole CBS Talk Fiefdom on the west coast and the east coast and syndicated in between all turned to dust within 18 mos.

Great Post Ken, I agree with every word

cadavra said...

The sadness is that Howard has the smarts and talent to be a high-end comedian, but he chose to go where the money is, which is down in the gutter. It's made him rich and famous, but it also deprived us of what could've been some genuinely great work. And he knows it as well: back in his terrestrial days, he'd sometimes complain about the idiots who were his fans. Well, you lie down with apes, you get up with apes.

D. McEwan said...

I gotta agree with you, Cadav, though if you lie down with apes, you may wake up to a large black monolithic slab humming at you, and the next thing you know, you're bashing folks over the head with the bones of wild boars.

Lorimartian said...

cadavra said...
The sadness is that Howard has the smarts and talent to be a high-end comedian, but he chose to go where the money is, which is down in the gutter. It's made him rich and famous, but it also deprived us of what could've been some genuinely great work.

I tried to put cadavra's sentiment into words earlier in the day but couldn't. Cadavra went straight to the heart of the matter. I agree. We were deprived of a talent that could have illuminated but instead chose to degrade and demean solely for the purpose of getting attention for attention's sake. Maybe he lacked confidence in his gifts? Only he can answer that question, but it doesn't excuse what he chose to do with them.

As for A Non-Emus' comment re Stern's purportedly well-adjusted daughter(s) (credit their mom, as I said before). If they are so well-adjusted, I seriously doubt they want their children watching Stern's nonsense. Are they going to watch a Stern tv marathon and tell their children that this is how a mature person conducts himself? I'm not saying Stern needed to care about the effect on others' children, unless he cared about the human race in general, obviously not, but HE had children and should have considered how his actions might affect them in the short and long term. That's what you do when you have children, A Non-Emus. Hopefully, you finally grow up.

A Non-Emus said...

Lorimartian, that's amazing how you know exactly what went on in the Stern household so you know that Howard had nothing to do with raising his children and his wife did it all by herself.

According to the interview with his daughter, Emily, she watched his show but decided it wasn't her thing. She grew up into fine adult. Maybe you need to grow up into one.

D. McEwan: I don't recall Stern ever casting nasty aspersions on people's children except the "God Hates F-ags" family. Care to cite an example? You said you don't really listen to the show so how would you know?

Guys, I'm sorry that he made fun of that person you like but don't make things up about him.

A Non-Emus said...

Lorimartian, here's the interview with Emily Stern. Don't take this personally, but I think I'll believe her take on how her father raised her over yours:

http://www.jewishjournal.com/hollywood_jew/article/emily_stern_howard_sterns_daughter_on_stage_and_off_20080928/

Rich D said...

D. McEwan - I’m not sure you can make the leap that studios have not offered Stern any other film projects just because he has only appeared in one major motion picture. Prior to PRIVE ATE PARTS, Stern was developing a FARTMAN movie, based on his radio character, with New Line. The deal fell apart over merchandising rights (Stern stated he wasn’t interested in having his face on coffee mugs, etc,) but the script by J F Lawton (Pretty Woman, Under Siege) was one of the funniest unproduced comedy scripts I’ve ever read, a great skewering comic book tropes of the time.

After PRIVATE PARTS he was cast in a supporting role of a Melanie Griffith movie titled Jane. Preproduction on the film had gotten as far as wardrobe fittings before a portion of the funding fell through, resulting in a rescheduled shoot that Stern wasn’t available for. When he dropped out of the project, the rest of the funding for the film fell apart and it was never made.

In 2006, Barry Levinson had approached Stern to star in MAN OF THE PEOPLE, but he thought the script needed work and as he was in the midst of preparing his move from terrestrial radio to Sirius he didn’t have time to devote to helping develop it. If you’ve seen the resulting film with Robin Williams you may agree with his assessment about the script.

A year later Stern was reportedly approached by Woody Allen to appear in a film but Stern passed. He talked about a year later saying “From a creative standpoint, I would love to work with Woody Allen… But from a moral standpoint I got a problem. There’s a million women in the world… [but what Allen did] that’s just creepy and dark… If Woody Allen captured Osama bin Laden, maybe I could forgive him.” Stern was always outspoken about what Allen did as a form of “thank you” for his support Mia Farrow did a cameo in PRIVATE PARTS.

I think Stern is more content to focus on his radio career and keep his involvement in film on the production side. He has been developing a ROCK AND ROLL HIGH SCHOOL and a PORKY’s remake forever now it seems. I think ROCK AND ROLL HIGH SCHOOL is dead, but the PORKY’s project has hit a legal snag over the remake rights.

(Sorry if this is a double post, I think Blogger swallowed up my first attempt...)

LouOCNY said...

Joining this conversation VERY late, a few thoughts:

I started listening to Howard WAY back in the WNBC days - so early, it was when his intern was 'Boy Lee', not 'Boy Gary', and Jackie was just an occasional visitor for Stump the JokeMan. I was very intrigued, and also wondered what the hell was going on, as he was doing his Mama Lockaboobaday 'traffic reports'. It took quite awhile to realize that Robin was a person of color, but long at al to get hooked! I got the 'joke' almost from day one, so He really has never offended/shocked or even bored me.

His latter days at WNBC were amazing in the intensity of the fights with both the real Pig Virus and the Incubus John Hayes (Pig Vomit in the movie being an amalgamation of the two), and wil always remember listening to his last day - which happened ONLY because he and Robin made into work during Hurricane Gloria. I got to listen to the entire run at KROCK, but my luck he went with Sirius about a week after I had invested into - yes - XM equipment and service. After their sort of merger, I got to listen again, and fell right back into it.

A point that no one has made is that I found out once that Howard's radio hero is...are you ready...Jack Benny. Surprised? I'm not - in fact, it all fell into place then. Howard understood that Benny was successful because he established that Public Persona as the World's Stingiest Man, surrounded by a cast of characters to compliment that caracter. You can even draw some analogies with his 'cast', and Benny's cast: Robin being his Mary...Bababooey his Dennis Day, and Jackie his Phil Harris. Not everything is perfectly analogous, but you get the idea.

And one more thing no one else has mentioned: Howard care about his fans, and will NEVER rip them off. Thats why you will never see Howard Stern lunch boxes, toilet paper, whatever. And that is why he also very sensitive about his costars using the show as a springboard to the same - just ask Jackie!

One other thing I have always found interesting - in the NBC days, he used to start the show (after the H-O-W-A-R-D S-T-E-R-n song) with the Tonight Show theme underscoring his show opening...and then inevitably slag Johnny endlessly - especially when Johnny started to cut the TS down in hours and days. Guess what? That is exactly what Howard is doing now. I always thought there was an underlying admiration for Johnny there...

Lorimartian said...

A Non-Emus, thank you for the link. (Let me be clear, I'm talking about his tv show which I watched twice. I've never listened to him on the radio but find his guest spots on Letterman entertaining because I do think he's smart, quick-witted, and articulate when engaged in adult conversation with someone else who is smart, quick-witted, and articulate.) Emily seems like a thoughtful adult, a credit to her parents. I am a little concerned about the sense that "you wouldn't want to listen; it's not your father", as if he had an illness like Alzheimers that he couldn't control. It appears she was able to separate the bully entertainer from the private individual and allow that "her father has been in the process of integrating all selves." Good for her. You have a right to watch/listen to what appeals to you. I have right not to watch/listen to what doesn't appeal to me. He's not the devil; I just think he sold himself short and, yes, his brand of "comedy" on the tv show was an unfortunate choice and a bad influence on adolescents.

A Non-Emus said...

I understand his humor is not for everybody. But I just don't like when people make him into a monster. On his show, they ask people on the street "Who is worse, Howard Stern or...?" The blank is filled with people such as the Aurora shooter, Jerry Sandusky, Osama bin Laden, etc. Without fail, at least 2 or 3 people will say Stern is worse.

He's been in the public eye for at least 25 years so consider that 1) every single adult that walks into his studio knows what they are getting into. No one is forced to do anything. 2) 25 years... there's something to it. If an entertainer can be that successful for that long simply by being crude, there would be thousands of Sterns. But you look around and see that there aren't. Not one of the so-called "shock jocks" have had the career that he has had. There are plenty who have tried though.

A Non-Emus said...

"And I've seen his fan base, and would be loathe to find myself among them."

D. McEwan, you would include Ken in this?

dangermandownunder said...

Howard has developed and grown and improved over time. Shows they repeat from the 90s have a real anger streak in them, which isn't there today. He is simply the greatest broadcaster of all time.