There’s no rest for the wicked. Howard Stern has spent the past 24 hours on a whirlwind tour around New York City – Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Today, The View, and, finally, Manhattan’s Friars Club, a comedy institution that hosted a press conference for Stern this afternoon.
After a glowing introduction from NBC exec Paul Telegdy, “Hail to the Chief” heralded Stern’s arrival. And though Stern had been talking up his stint on America’s Got Talent for an entire day, he still had energy to spare – as well as anecdotes about his move to network TV. Here’s the best of what EW learned at the event:
1. Watching American Idol makes Stern want to throw up.
Stern’s never been known for his reticence – and it didn’t take long for the shock jock to take aim at AI’s judging system. “Not every contestant can be wonderful,” he complained. “You’ve got to be up front with people.” He also had harsh words for rival judge Jennifer Lopez (“I don’t understand what she’s doing there”) and host Ryan Seacrest, whom Stern thinks can’t hold a candle to AGT emcee Nick Cannon. (According to Stern, Seacrest “is kind of tired. He doesn’t look like he relates to the people.”)
2. He has low hopes for Britney on The X Factor.
“Britney still thinks the earth is flat,” he said dismissively when asked about the pop tart reportedly signing on to be an X Factor judge. “I don’t anticipate great opinions from her. She’s gonna sit there like J. Lo, ‘Oh, you’re wonderful, you’re perfect. Can I get a perfume endorsement out of this?’… But I think it’ll be interesting. I’ll tune in to see what kind of train wreck she is.”
3. Oh, and he also doesn’t like Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba.
But there are a few reality judges Stern actually respects! He claimed he fast forwards through every judge on Dancing With the Stars when he watches the show – except Len Goodman. He also praised fellow arbiters Simon Cowell, L.A. Reid, Adam Levine, and Piers Morgan.
4. He’s a fan of vaudeville and other high-brow performance.
Stern was drawn to AGT because it features more than just singers – he also enjoyed watching “true vaudeville” acts like mentalists, jugglers, and dancers. But one of the judge’s favorite performers was a guy with an unorthodox talent: “A guy comes out. His act is, he gets kicked in the nuts…. And I’m laughing like this is The Three Stooges or Jackass.”
5. His showbiz philosophy: Make a deal with the devil.
Here’s Stern’s advice to anyone who aspires to a career in show business: “You have to have no life. There can be no distractions. You’ve got to, in a sense, make a deal with the devil. You’ve got to give up your personal life in order to have a show business career that’s super successful.”
6. Barbara Walters wanted him to get freaky on The View.
Lawyers and execs tend to get nervous when Stern’s around, and with good reason. That’s why View executive producer Bill Geddie warned Stern about what he could and couldn’t do on air before he appeared on the show this afternoon. Soon after Geddie’s lecture, though, Stern got a new set of instructions from a surprising source: “Barbara Walters walks in and goes, ‘Don’t listen to him. Be crazy. I don’t care what you do.’” Maybe that’s why Stern ended up making out with Sherri Shepherd.
7. He’s convinced that he’s AGT’s biggest star, period.
During one contentious deliberation, Stern laid down the law for fellow judges Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel. Here’s what he claims to have told them: “I am a huge superstar. I make 500 times more money than you do. I command a huge audience. There’s been a movie made about my life. Really, let’s end this conversation now – I’m the bigger talent, and we should go with my opinion.” For the record, Mandel and Osbourne ended up overruling him anyway.
8. Despite that confidence, he’s nervous about showing his face on TV.
Stern isn’t a big booster of his own looks. “I don’t think I’m a particularly handsome man,” he told reporters. “This is a face made for radio.” Later, he riffed about making love to his wife, Beth Ostrosky Stern, during AGT’s commercial breaks: “People compare me to a giant praying mantis. Can you imagine a praying mantis crawling all over that beautiful woman?”
9. He’ll bring honesty to AGT – but he won’t reinvent the wheel.
The Parents Television Council shouldn’t be too worried about what Stern will do or say on NBC’s talent show. Stern reassured reporters several times that he isn’t going to push the envelope with explicit statements or actions: “I don’t want to alienate [AGT’s] audience,” he explained. “Lots of kids watch the show, families watch the show.” So the Stern we see on NBC will be honest and frank – but not inappropriate.
Unless Barbara Walters goads him into getting weird.
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