Howard Stern Exposed!
The "Private Parts" Interview
Fresh from the pages of Steppin' Out Magazine, the New York area's best
local entertainment magazine, comes this exclusive interview with Howard
by Chauncé Hayden. The interview took place during a round-table
sit down with the press during the "Private Parts" press junket
at the Rihga Royal Hotel in New York City about 2 weeks before the release
of the movie.
The undisputed King of radio, Howard Stern, is proving
that he truly is the "King Of All Media." The inventor of shock
radio made his motion picture debut in "Private Parts" on March
7th with an opening weekend of $15.1 million in gross ticket sales. In
addition to being the host of "The Howard Stern Show," the No.
1 daily syndicated radio show in the world, he is the author of the phenomenal
best-selling books Private Parts and Miss America.
When Stern's autobiography, Private Parts,
was first published by Simon & Schuster in 1993, it was an instant
success, immediately soaring to the top of all the major bestseller lists
in the U.S. and becoming the fastest-selling autobiography ever. His book
signings held in cities around the country drew huge crowds.
The hardcover book spent four weeks in the
No. 1 position, 13 weeks in the top 10, and 20 weeks on the New York Times
bestseller list. The paperback remained on the New York Times bestseller
list for 15 weeks. Private Parts has sold more than 2 million copies to
In addition, Stern's New Year's Eve Pay-Per-View
special grossed upwards of $40 million.
When not ranting and raving over the 92.3
K-Rock airwaves (6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday) Stern spends
his time with his wife Alison and their three children on Long Island.
Chauncé Hayden: The movie version
of your best-selling autobiography, "Private Parts" seems to be
the pinnacle of your long career. Are you satisfied with the final results?
Howard Stern: It's
actually more than I thought it would be. In fact I was quite shocked when
we finally got to show the film to a test audience in Seattle. I had never
been involved in anything like that. I didn't even know what a test audience
was. The audience was given the opportunity to write down its feelings and
the overwhelming response was that the film was hilarious. And when they
said stuff like "It inspired me to follow my dreams," and "It's
the funniest movie I've seen since "M*A*S*H," that went beyond
my wildest dreams. I could not believe how much they loved the film.
Chauncé: Rather than a movie about
"The Howard Stern Show," "Private Parts'" central theme
seems to be the relationship between you and your wife, Alison. Would you
Howard: Absolutely. I think she is the
humanity of the film. If I had made a movie that basically showed a lot
of the radio bits that I did and it was just me running around the studio
and doing my thing it would be no different than what you get on the radio
or the E Channel. The idea behind "Private Parts" was to reveal
something new. Something that I hadn't shown the audience before. To me
the key to this movie was the relationship I have with my wife because for
years people had said to me, what kind of woman would marry Howard Stern?
Chauncé: Good question.
Howard: (Laughs) That is a good question!
It's got to be a unique woman because there is betrayal in our relationship.
My dream was to be honest on the air and tell people everything that was
going on in my life. That was not my wife's dream. The idea that this woman
fell in love with me and was willing to travel the country with me and be
such a close friend to me was remarkable. And yet we have this issue in
our lives which is this radio show. And when I go on the air and I talk
about her miscarriage, I know I've done wrong and yet(pause). There's some
sort of character flaw in me and yet she continues to love me.
Howard: Because we have a true friendship
between us and a true relationship between us. There's something there-some
spark. That's what I wanted to show in the movie. That's a side of me that
the audience has never seen. I've always said, when I'm on the air I'm probably
the most truthful about my life. That's the real me. Somehow I think when
I'm off the air, I'm role playing.
Chauncé: You went through dozens
of scripts before finally reading one that met your approval. What was that
process like for you?
Howard: Two years before ["Private
Parts" producer] Ivan Reitman got involved, I was involved in a script
situation where I thought every script was dumber than the next. It started
to look as if the film wasn't going to be made because I had final script
approval and I rejected every script there was.
Chauncé: What was the problem with
Howard: I rejected them for various reasons,
mostly because they were over the top comedies that I think were dumb, boring
and dull like every other comedy that's been coming out. I'm convinced Dan
Aykroyd doesn't read his scripts. And I love Dan Aykroyd. I thought he was
brilliant. But man, he's just not paying attention to his audience or he
apparently doesn't care. So every two weeks I would turn down a script until
the word was that I'm afraid to do a film. But I wasn't afraid. Remember,
I'm the guy who went on MTV and showed his disgusting butt cheeks. I'm not
afraid of anything. I just wouldn't do a bad movie. I mean, some of those
scripts had me being chased around the house by Richard Simmons! Where's
the reality in that? Ivan Reitman, who was a fan of the show, seemed to
have the right vision and in six months he came back with a script that
I knew was the right formula. He then put me together with Betty Thomas,
whom I can't praise enough. She is brilliant.
Chauncé: How accurate is the film in terms
of the sometimes turbulent relationship you had with your father?
Howard: It's true. My father really did
call me a moron and an idiot. In fact it got really vicious at times. But
deep down inside I always felt my father loved me.
Chauncé: Then why the name calling?
Howard: I felt he did it because he was
insecure about me. He felt that I wasn't going to be a success or that I
wasn't going to be able to make a living. So there's sort of this, "Hey
dad, look I made it," kind of thing about the movie. I mean I suppose
I wasn't socially acceptable as a child growing up, in terms that I wasn't
this great, popular person. So there's sort of that vindication as well.
Just like when I wrote the book, Private Parts. That was the most gratifying
thing I had ever done. Because for the first time I started to get acceptance
among critics. I didn't think that mattered to me but all of a sudden it
did. I liked the feeling.
Chauncé: Obviously you have millions
of fans who idolize you across the country. But how does it make you feel
knowing that there are those who don't know you, nor have they ever listened
to your radio show, but who hate you?
Howard: It's a funny thing, that hate thing.
I once did an interview with John Stossel from the television show "20/20"
and he brought that up to me and I said to him, "Let's go out on the
streets of New York and see who hates me. Let's go up to the average hard
working guys and see what they say." So we went down the street and
we ran into men and women of all different ethnic groups and they all came
up to me and said that they love the show. I think there is a higher acceptance
level out there than people will admit to. I know one thing and that is
that I make people happy from 6 to 10 in the morning, which is the most
miserable time of the day. It's a horrid time of day. People have said to
me that they've been in their car for an hour and a half, they suddenly
pull into a garage, then they have to sit there for 10 more minutes to listen
to a bit I'm doing on the air. Yes, there are those who don't get the radio
show or it's not their particular cup of tea or brand of humor and I think
those are the people who identify themselves as hating me. Of course, then
there are those who hate me but who actually listen every day. I'm not sure
if those people are just voyeurs or fans.
Chauncé: Which would you say was
more challenging, writing the book Private Parts or making the film based
on the book?
Howard: The most challenging thing I have
ever done in my career was the book. I still to this day don't know how
I got that done. I certainly didn't know if I could write a book. I knew
I could be funny talking into a microphone but I didn't know if I could
sit at my computer and be funny. Writing to me is the hardest thing in the
world. I wanted to make sure that I sounded like myself. I remember when
I first started to write the book I would sit there and check the thesaurus
and all the lame crap that people do. Then I remember thinking to myself,
you know what, just write this the way you talk. And it was so difficult
for me and so lonely. I would see my wife and kids outside my window playing
and I would be inside trying to type this thing. I had four months to type
this book and I'm thinking to myself, "Oh, my God how am I going to
get this done?" I would say that the movie was the second hardest thing
I've ever done.
Chauncé: They say one of the most
challenging things an actor can do is play himself. How difficult was it
Howard: It was weird because people said
to me, "Hey you're playing yourself, that's got to be pretty easy."
And I said, "Well in theory, yeah. But it's not so easy. I can't present
myself today as the Howard of yesterday."
Chauncé: Was there anything you
did to help yourself be the person you were 20 years ago?
Howard: I studied a lot of videotape of myself.
I studied my old air checks. I started to notice things like whenever I
was on the air early in my career I was always out of breath because I was
so nervous. My demeanor as a 20-year-old was this very insecure, shy, quiet
guy. Also, revealing that sweetness with my wife in the film was very difficult
for me in terms of making sure that it was real. By the way, I credit ["Private
Parts" Director] Betty Thomas with all of this.
Chauncé: In the past you've been
extremely sensitive to what the media writes about you. Soon every paper
and magazine will be reviewing your movie. With that in mind, is there any
one particular film critic whose opinion means more to you than the others?
Howard: No, not really. In fact I couldn't
wait for people in the press to see this thing. The reaction I've gotten
from the press has been nothing short of outstanding. As far as critics
go, obviously some of the better known critics like Siskel and Ebert are
important because they're powerful critics and a lot of people read them.
But I'm almost just as concerned with a guy from a small town paper. I want
to hit home runs with everybody here. I really believe in the strength of
Chauncé: How would you describe
your typical listener?
Howard: They're usually a bit of a wise
ass, they would like to tell their bosses off. It's a type of person. And
I don't know if there's that much difference between men and women because
I have some female fans who are rabid for the show.
Chauncé: What separates you from
all the Howard Stern wanna-be's?
Howard: There are a lot of people who think
you go on the air and just say penis and that's how you get an audience.
I know when I was fired from NBC they put a guy on and said to him, "Well,
talk for five hours like he does and say some dirty words or something."
But that's not what my show is about. You cannot maintain an audience for
20 years saying penis. It's just doesn't work.
Chauncé: You often talk on the air
about how much you enjoy surfing the internet. Is the internet truly the
future as far as you're concerned?
Howard: Right now, I think the internet
is in its infancy. It doesn't offer too much to people right now. A lot
of it is advertising, hype and junk. A lot of it seems to be like bad magazines,
but having said that, I think there is tremendous room for growth. I love
going on the computer and chatting just to see what's on people's minds.
I think in 20 years the internet will overtake everything.
Chauncé: Even radio?
Howard: No, I don't think radio will ever
change, at least not for me. From 6 to 10 in the morning people will always
be in their cars, and the internet doesn't reach cars.
Chauncé: Will you ever have your
own prime time television show?
Howard: No. I've been offered every television
show that there is, but I just don't have the time to do it. That's why
I do the E! show; because I can do them both simultaneously. Radio to me
is an important medium. It is so much more gratifying for me to do radio
than television. That is why I signed on to do radio for another four years.
Radio fuels everything that I do. I know that is what I'm best at. It's
the reason why I have such a loyal following. As much as I bitch about getting
up at four in the morning, I don't think I could really get along without
radio. I wonder what it would be like to wake up and not have that form
of expression available to me.
Chauncé: Now that you've become
a superstar in the entertainment industry, are you at all concerned that
success might take some of the edge away from your radio show?
Howard: Yeah, I do worry about it. As you
become more famous and well-known you start to worry about your image. Suddenly
you start to say maybe I shouldn't say that on the radio because of my image.
And as soon as you say that, you're finished. You've got to put that thought
out of your head if you want to be attractive and not admit the fact that
something is medically wrong with you-or whatever that is when you become
boring. So to safeguard against that, I just sort of tap into what made
me get into this business and what made me interesting in the first place.
Besides focusing on your relationship with your wife, the film also focuses
heavily on your relationship with your co-host, Robin Quivers. How important
is Robin to the success of "The Howard Stern Show"?
Howard: My relationship with Robin is remarkable.
Robin is the backbone of that show and she is the anchor of that show. I
would not be successful without Robin. Robin makes me feel funny. Nobody
knows how to fire me up like she does.
Chauncé: In other words, she knows
how to push your buttons.
Howard: Exactly. It's a one in a million
shot that you can link up with somebody like that.
Chauncé: Finally, is there anything
during your career that you regret?
Howard: No, and that probably is a character
flaw. I don't regret anything I ever said or did.
If you would like a copy of Steppin' Out Magazine
featuring interviews with Howard Stern, Baba Booey and Mary McCormack, please
send $5.00 to Steppin' Out attn: Chaunce Hayden, 381 Broadway, Westwood,
N.J. 07675 or call 201-358-2929. (Don't forget to include your name and
address) or you can E-Mail Chaunce Hayden direct at Chayden196@aol.com
Special Thanks To Steppin' Out Magazine, Chauncé
Hayden, Larry Collins and Collins Communications.
©1997 The K.O.A.M. Newsletter. All Rights Reserved.
©1997 Steppin' Out Magazine. All Rights Reserved.