Young people today may know Howard Stern as the shifty, shyster lawyer of the late model Anna Nicole Smith. But in the 1990s, way back in the last century, there was a radio disc jockey also named Howard Stern who rose to fame by stealing bits from the likes of National Lampoon and unknown deejays in Portland, Maine.
Following in the footsteps of radio shock jocks like Don Imus and Steve Dahl, Stern took the U.S. by storm with his zany brand of humor. His greatest accomplishments were accusing everyone from MTV Unplugged to Jay Leno of ripping him off, and making life in radio difficult via gag orders for other talented radio hosts working for the same company such as Opie and Anthony.
Now, at the tender age of 56, rumors abound that Stern might actually replace Simon Cowell on the dead horse of a show American Idol. While he certainly loves his name being in the gossip pages for the first time in years, ole Howie “the second Darrin on Bewitched” Stern could rape and kill the franchise.
Stern, let’s call him Oliver on The Brady Bunch, surely had a successful, if not Hitleresque, radio career, plus a couple of well-purchased, if not read, books during Bill Clinton’s first term. And he did have one fantasy film for which he received a Razzie award released when Princess Diana was alive.
He has also had very little success in more recent, outside of radio, endeavors.
Remember Stern’s late night Saturday show on CBS that was supposed to compete with Saturday Night Live? It was cancelled. Remember the Stern-produced FX show Son of the Beach, which was a cross between Baywatch, The Naked Gun, and a pile of horseshit? Also cancelled.
Remember all the television shows Stern talked about producing on his radio show for months that never saw the light of day? Shows that were to be called Doomsday, Kane, Etiquette for Outlaws, and Howard Stern: The High School Years? Remember when he was going to get his own interview show on ABC? That wasn’t picked up either.
And what about the two bound-to-be-awful-if-they’re-ever-actually-made remakes that Stern’s production company has been working on for nearly ten years of Porky’s and Rock ‘n’ Roll High School? The latter, according to imdb.com, is slated for release in 2011. I can remember when the release date was 2006.
Stern fans will claim that he is a perfectionist and doesn’t want to put out a bad product, but if you’ve seen Son of the Beach, or Stern’s videos such as Butt Bongo Fiesta (the bit stolen from the Maine deejays) or New Year’s Rotten Eve, bad product is not a concern with him.
Despite Stern’s probably believing he invented Idol, he has no business on the show. FOX would do better digging up Soupy Sales or Wolfman Jack and placing their skeletons next to Randy Jackson while Seacrest works their skulls like puppets.
Even Sirius Satellite Radio must be questioning the hiring of, and ridiculous amount of money they threw at, Stern. In a recent ad for Sirius, the company compares Stern in radio to Elvis Presley, Michael Jordan and Richard Pryor in their respective fields. Think it was lost on Sirius that two of the three are dead and the other hasn’t played basketball in eight years?
Is American Idol crazy enough, Bonnie and Clyde enough, to want to go down in flames the way only hiring someone like Stern could make happen? Did Ted McGinley turn them down? How else can you explain the decision to replace 20+ million viewers with the one or so million who still listen to Stern?
Bringing Stern to Idol would be the kiss of death. I say bury the son of a bitch in May when they crown their next Mr. or Miss Not-Gonna-Sell-Any-Albums.