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As Howard Stern joins America's Got Talent, I ask: Can he shine on a show where he isn't the only star?



howard-stern-replace-piers-morgan-on-americas-got-talent.jpgLike every other critic who actually knows Howard Stern's work, I expect him to supercharge ratings and action on NBC's America's Got Talent when he joins the show this summer as its new judge.

Easy as it is to fob off Stern as a lunkheaded pervert, he's actually a smart interviewer and a relentlessly funny broadcaster, even when he's being so sexist and prejudiced you can barely stand to listen.

As others have noted, Stern needs a way to reach audiences outside the hermetically sealed group of fans who pay for Sirius XM satellite radio to hear 50 different versions of his attitude. (though it's worth noting, of all the stars who have tried to stretch their brand over an entire channel, Stern has succeeded best, filling two whole channels on Sirius for years now).

howard-stern-talent-logo.jpgAnd America's Got Talent needs to give a reason for young folks -- especially young men -- to check in while heading out from college into summer.

But I can't help wondering: Can Stern shine on a show where he isn't the undisputed master of his domain?

Since his earliest days in show business, Stern has always insisted on complete control of the environments where he works. One reason he left free, terrestrial radio, was because executives had begun to crack down on his content, fearful of blistering fines from federal authorities (it's also why he's said he'll never make another movie, unnerved by the collaborative process, even though his autobiographical film, Private Parts, was widely praised).

howard-stern.jpgImpetuous and aggressive as stern can be, he's still stepping onto a show which has aired for years without him. And though he'll be the one everyone focuses on when the program comes back in summer 2012, Stern will be vying for the spotlight with Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel (Stern replaces outgoing judge Piers Morgan).

One of his bosses: executive producer/creator/supreme egotist Simon Cowell.

Whatever happens, it's bound to be entertaining.

NBC's press release is below:

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – December 15, 2011 – NBC announced today that Howard Stern, American radio personality, television host and author, will serve as the new judge on the top-rated summer alternative series “America’s Got Talent,” produced by FremantleMedia North America and Simon Cowell’s SYCO Television.

Stern will provide his feedback on the colorful array of hopeful future stars who are currently auditioning in major cities around the country for the show’s upcoming seventh season.

Production of the live shows of “America’s Got Talent” also will be moving to New York, where Stern will continue to helm his SiriusXM radio program.

howard-stern-has-officially-joined-nbcs-americas-got-talent.jpgThe announcement was made by Paul Telegdy, President, Alternative and Late Night Programming, NBC.

“Howard Stern’s larger-than-life personality will bring a thrilling new dynamic to ‘America’s Got Talent’ starting this summer,” said Telegdy. “He’s a proven innovator and his track record in broadcasting is truly remarkable. Howard is very passionate about this show and is fully committed to its future success.”

Stern helped to transform American radio and put syndicated satellite radio on the map on SiriusXM. As the outspoken, unedited and headline-grabbing host of “The Howard Stern Show” radio program, Stern was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2005 and became a pop-culture icon with a massive loyal fan base. Since 1987, he has hosted numerous television shows, record-breaking pay-per-view events and home video releases. He also embarked on a five-month political campaign for governor of New York in 1994.

His two books, “Private Parts” (1993) and “Miss America” (1995), spent 20 and 16 weeks, respectively, on The New York Times bestseller list. The first book became a national sensation and was adapted into the feature film “Private Parts” (1997), a biographical comedy film that starred Stern and his radio show staff -- and was a box-office success. Additionally, Stern performed on the film’s soundtrack which topped the Billboard 200 chart. Stern currently broadcasts his show “Howard 100” on the SiriusXM satellite radio station.

"America's Got Talent" was the #1 non-sports telecast on ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox in total viewers every week it aired over the summer of 2011, making it the #1 summer series in total viewers for a sixth year in a row. Last summer, "America's Got Talent" delivered its highest-rated cycle ever.

“America’s Got Talent” is the only talent competition show that is open to any age and any talent. Auditions for season seven kicked off in October with upcoming open calls set for Austin, Texas, Charlotte, N.C. and San Francisco, Calif. For all the latest information and to pre-register, go to

“America’s Got Talent” is produced by FremantleMedia North America and Simon Cowell’s SYCO Television. Simon Cowell, Cecile Frot-Coutaz (“American Idol”), Jason Raff, Ken Warwick (“American Idol”) and Georgie Hurford-Jones are executive producers.

For embeddable clips and full episodes of “America’s Got Talent,” please visit’s official show site:

For artwork and a complete press kit from the show, please visit the NBC Universal Media Village website at

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[Last modified: Monday, December 19, 2011 1:05pm]


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