Morgan announced last week that he would not be returning to the popular talent competition, likely to focus his attention on his other hosting gig on CNN, Piers Morgan Tonight. Morgan took over the job after Larry King retired from the position after 25 years in December of 2010.
While nothing formal has been announced, Stern has addressed the rumors on his show, even joking Piers had emailed him to say he'd be great, just not as great as Morgan. Stern admits he'd love to be a judge on a talent competition show, and was even part of the rumored lineup of hosts to possibly replace Simon Cowell when he left American Idol last year to host his current show Fox's X Factor.
Also of note is Stern's current legal dispute with Sirius over stock payments owed to his production company One Twelve from his initial 2004 contract when he signed with the satellite radio company. For Sirius' part they feel they do not owe Stern any additional payments beyond what he was paid in 2007, with the key dispute coming down to whether the merge with rival satellite company XM counted towards his listener sign up numbers. To put it bluntly, Howard's mentioned more than once in the last few week's he's fed up with Sirius' management, nothing new for long time listeners, but this time he's making it a legal issue.
Stern's been offered a reported $15M to take the hosting job, and considering his current (and vocal) dissatisfaction with Sirius, there may be some truth to this rumor. If so, what a brilliant move for NBC to bring in a guy like Stern. With Fox's American Idol and X Factor dominating television's 'talent competition' market, bringing in fresh blood and a unique personality like Stern's could amount to a ratings bonanza for the show.
Media snobs scoffed at the idea of Stern stepping in for Cowell on Idol last year -- which I think played a part in his elimination as a possible judge -- but this time perhaps NBC will ignore the knee-jerk reactions and give it serious consideration. For most of America, especially those who don't listen to Stern, there's a misconception that he is simply a crude shock jock whose sole gift is to appall and offend the listener. But that would be a very narrow (and misinformed) view of the bigger Stern picture.
I've been a fan and regular listener for close to 15 years and I'd like to think I am pretty media savvy. I've written about and am familiar with virtually every celeb, from Hollywood's A-listers to MTV's crap reality stars; pop culture is something I live and breath. What makes Howard Stern brilliant at what he does (which certainly does border on the obscene from time to time) is his ability to balance his big ego, neurotic insecurities and a natural curiosity. Whether people want to accept it, he treats celebrities as people, warts and all, and asks them questions many of us think, but are too embarrassed to admit.
Howard Stern is a GREAT interviewer, and is often at the center of controversy because of his ability to extract details from some of biggest celebs on the planet (here's a fine example of Stern scapegoating.) People come on his show, and his knack for disarming them and having them let their guard down in unrivaled. The show is dangerous, sexy and Stern often gets at the essence of his guests. A perfect example of his brilliance was a recent interview he did with Coldplay's lead singer Chris Martin.
Martin has taken a beating in the tabloids and MSM for several years now as being a bit of a whiny prat. Interviews I've read in the past seem to always have him come across as an unpleasant, humorless twat who takes himself too seriously. He gets pissy when questioned about his famous wife Gwyneth Paltrow, or about his kids, his political leanings or about being famous, or whatever. It truly made it hard to love Coldplay's music when you were confronted with such an unlikeable frontman. But put him in front of Howard Stern and it instantly erased all of that. Well, at least for me.
From my perspective, Martin came across as down to earth, honest, witty, fun and by golly, downright cheerful. What I took away from it was that this is a guy who LOVES to make music, respects his fans and doesn't want to be judged inaccurately for being married to a beautiful, talented A-list actress (who is plenty hated in her own right). Martin doesn't avoid talking about his wife because he dislikes her, or is embarrassed of his riches, he just wants to be known for his passion: music. Howard Stern brought this out in a very genuine way. And he does it EVERY week.
It's hard not to be jaded and cynical about Hollywood and the entertainment industry. The PR machine managing today's biggest names are all about controlling and manipulating the image of their client, so what you see and hear in the MSM is very likely only a small fraction of the truth. It's truly refreshing to hear honesty from someone who is both an insider and an outsider by choice, and this is how Stern has positioned himself.
Howard Stern would make a fantastic judge on America's Got Talent (or really any other prime time venue) and those who fearfully worry about him sullying the airwaves with his "shock-jock" antics should admit they've never actually listened to his show with a discerning ear.
I dare NBC to be brilliant. I double dog dare them!