After Piers Morgan resigned from America’s Got Talent the show didn’t just fill his spot, they signed their number one prospect. During a time when American Idol and The X Factor struggle with keeping their judging seats warm ‘AGT’ went out and recruited Howard Stern.
This is not their first “questionable” choice as a judge. Remember that David Hasselhoff a.k.a. “Mr. Burger King” was part of this initial judging panel for AGT. Also, it was Piers Morgan anchoring the panel with wit and an accent not unlike Simon Cowell, the man from American Idol (now The X Factor) that American has identified as THE judge. Given the history, there were safer choices to make. Instead, AGT went all in with Howard. It didn’t take long to find out whether Howard Stern would work.
For television viewers unfamiliar with Stern only know him as the radio “shock jock” and may have seen his movie. What people need to understand (and has been unveiled through the first several episodes) is that Howard Stern is a comedian first, and a heavy opinionated one at that. Given this characteristic, there was actually little room for failure despite some conservative protests worried that Stern’s radio shenanigans would carry into prime-time television. The network isn’t that stupid, and neither is Stern. This was never the real question. For me, there were two questions to be answered. First, how will resident comedian, Howie Mandel, handle the situation and then will Stern stay happy?
The Howie Mandel factor is pretty straight forward. Mandel would have to defer to Stern, and he has. Howie is no longer the funniest person on the panel, but still provides support and at times can carry the show. Howie Mandel is the Scottie Pippen to Howard Stern’s Michael Jordan. Mandel appears to have embraced the move as an overall good for the show. Of course, he had little choice. You don’t fire Michael Jordan.
The second question can be filed in the “to be determined” folder. Will Howard Stern stay happy? Anyone familiar with his radio show and career understand that much of his entertainment is derived from his unhappiness with contracts, direction, and feuding with co-workers. FYI: Feuding with co-workers = HIGH ratings! Will Howard eventually create a riff to keep it interesting? I guess that’s another reason to watch.
For all the networks that have passed on Stern in the past, well they are feeling the wrath of underestimating a talent that has been underestimated often in his career, ultimately proving himself as the self-ordained “king of all media.” Enjoy, because I believe this is just a stepping stone for Howard into the Hollywood world of producing. Two constants with Howard Stern, 1) He will make you laugh and 2) He is always looking for his next quest to conquer.
David S. Grant is the author of “Blood: The New Red”, follow David on Twitter @david_s_grant
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