Baumhower: Strippers, midgets and porn stars, oh my!Written by Jeremy Baumhower | | firstname.lastname@example.org
“Strippers, Midgets and Porn Stars … Oh My” seems to be the rallying cry from the Parents Television Council. The PTC sent 91 sponsors of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” a warning letter of the upcoming “filth” from the soon-to-air seventh season, which premieres Monday. It seems that hiring of Howard Stern as a judge, replacing Piers Morgan has their perverbial panties in a bunch. I am here to tell the good parents of Toledo, the only thing to fear about Howard Stern on “AGT” is that you may fall in love with him.
Self-proclaimed “King of All Media” Howard Stern announced in December that he would be joining NBC’s “AGT” as a judge, a deal insiders estimate will pay him $20 million for the upcoming season. “AGT” executive producer Simon Cowell, who hired Howard, told the LA Times “It’s all gotten a little too safe, too predictable,” and that “it needed a shakeup.” If the show needed a shakeup they hired the right man.
The term “shock jock” was rightfully created for Howard Stern, whose daily radio morning show reinvented the medium. Howard saw an audience in males that were being ignored/insulted by the current radio content. He pushed the line of decency, brought adult entertainment to the breakfast table and in the process was fined millions of dollars by the FCC. The fines forced his show to move to satellite radio, where his name and brand help broker one of the biggest media mergers of all time between Sirius and XM. If there were a perverted media version of King Midas with his “golden touch,” his name would surely be Howard Stern.
Stern’s “Hall of Fame” radio career can be credited with inspiring many TV reality and game shows, like MTV’s “The Osbournes,” “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader,” and Jay Leno’s “Jaywalking,” etc. What does this mean? Why would I point out ideas stolen/inspired by Howard’s radio show? The answer is simple: Howard is not always dirty. In fact, I would guess that 20 percent or less is dedicated to pushing the line of decency. The other 80 percent shows the true talent and genius that Howard Stern possesses. The rare ability to decipher what makes great content made his hiring as a judge genius.
The letter from the PTC to sponsors of “America’s Got Talent” states that “Stern’s reputation for sleaze and misogyny is well known; and to our knowledge his only previous judging experience consisted of looking at insecure, naked young women and telling them whether or not they were hot enough to pose for Playboy.” They are trying desperately to pressure advertisers into pulling their commercials and the season premiere has yet to be on the air. This blatant publicity stunt will fuel curiosity more than put out the fire, meaning they are sending more viewers than dissuading business. The PTC is afraid America may actually like Howard, so it is best to dissuade you before it begins.
If you love Simon Cowell, then you will love Howard Stern; if you allowed your children to watch “American Idol” and “X-Factor” then “America’s Got Talent” is safe as well. Howard is only a judge, this is not his show, this is not his idea. He has been hired for his hype, opinion and audience. Your children will not be exposed to anything any different than if you took them to a circus; there will probably be little people and exotic dancers but not the same that has filled his radio show for nearly three decades.
They hired Howard Stern to save a failing show on a floundering network and Howard agreed because he is ready to shave his “Shock Jock” persona. It is definitely not about the money as Stern’s current and last contract pushed his net worth presumably around $1 billion. This is another challenge for Howard to demonstrate to the world his talent; it’s another medium to conquer.
I promise you that if you allow your 8-year-old daughter to watch “AGT,” she will not want to be a stripper, she will not be requesting a chrome pole for her ninth birthday, your 10-year-old son will not suddenly be evaluating girls with a laser pointer, pointing out obvious flaws. I can also promise that if you watch “America’s Got Talent” as a family, there might be something for everyone in the hour-long broadcast, and if you watch with an open mind, you may see what I have heard for the last 20 years … Howard’s Got Talent.
Did you know: Howard’s loyal fan base includes the biggest names in entertainment today? Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Judd Apatow, Jimmy Kimmel, Natalie Maines, John Favreau and Jeff Probst all listen daily and some even participate in a “Celebrity Superfan Roundtable” show that airs on SiriusXm.
Jeremy Baumhower can be followed on Twitter @JeremyTheProduc.