Dateline: March 20, 1997

Howard2Has Howard Really Gone Hollywood?
One Man's Opinion...
By Kevin Renzulli

The latest attempt to derail Howard's rise to the top comes not from the press, the FCC or citizen decency groups who'd like to take him off the air and abridge his free speech. It's actually more insidious than that. It seems that some of Howard's so-called fans are now questioning whether he's sold out and gone Hollywood.

In the last week or so, my ever-packed e-mail box has started to receive cynical notes from some fans who tell me that Howard has changed and that he's hyping the movie and soundtrack too much. Another recurring e-mail theme is that since I'm not critical of Howard and his ways (I love it all) and don't openly challenge his assertions about how good the movie and soundtrack are doing, that I'm part of the problem, which is nonsense and laughable at best.

I've been following Howard's show since 1984, taping and listening to every radio show of his in it's entirety. I've watched and taped just about every TV appearance possible and I've purchased all the products he's offered since the days of "The US Open Sores". Not to mention my work on the newsletter, "Crucified By The FCC" and "Private Parts" the book and now this Web site. Obviously, I know of what I speak.

A great opportunity to kiss Howard's ass would have been to write a glowing review of "Private Parts" but I chose not to review the film because I honestly liked it so much that I thought my review might read just like every other gushing review, so I opted out. Truth be told, when I first saw the film at the premiere, I went into the Theater At The Garden with an open mind and was somewhat skeptical that Howard could act. My worst fear was that "Private Parts" might turn out to be nothing more than an Ivan Reitman-Betty Thomas film version of Butt Bongo. But guess what! I was wrong.

So to answer a few of your many questions;

Do I think Howard has gone Hollywood?

No.

Am I kissing his ass?

No.

Was there movie overkill?

Yes.

Has it stopped?

Yes.

Is the show back on track?

Almost. If you had worked on something for four years and promoted it this heavily, you'd be burnt out from the promotion and rightfully so. Things are already getting back to normal.

You have to keep in mind that Howard's hype of a product whether it's a video, book or film, follows a pattern set by him a long time ago. It's typical Howard. In my opinion, he hasn't changed with the release of the movie. He's doing what he's always done. Pre-promotion, inside stories about the making of the product and then the non-stop promotion when it's released. Then it's the accolades, self-praise and finally overkill. Sometimes to the point where his radio bosses have to tell him to get on with the show. If this process had a name it might be called "The Six Phases Of A Stern Project". But you know what? It works. You've got to admit that. Howard is successful. He's got money, notoriety and fame, and he's getting paid to do something he loves. How many of us can say that!

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