(Air Date: Week Of 3/5/97)
Right off, I must tell you that I'm NOT a Howard Stern fan. I don't think he's the anti-Christ, we all know that's Bill Gates (it's a joke, no calls or letters, please), but I'm still amazed to report that I really liked his movie, "Private Parts." I'm not saying it's "Citizen Kane", but this story of how he became the king of all media is full of big laughs, family values, and tips for using a stereo speaker as a very personal appliance.
Howard dreamed of being in radio even though he had, in the words of his first employer, no voice and no personality. But Howard didn't let that stop him. He may not have been the brightest pathetic dweeb to come down the pike, but he did glom onto one salient fact. Ratings rule. And being number one on the FCC's hit list is the best audience grabber there is. Once he discovered what lesbian chat could do, it was just a hop, skip, and a jump to radio immortality.
See Howard, playing himself, wide-eyed in wonderland, taunting management until their eyes bug out, they turn to drink and finally violence. Poor fools. They never stood a chance. Howard had the listeners who loved him tuning in an average of an hour and twenty minutes per day just to see what he'd do next. The listeners who hated him listened for over two. Same reason.
As for family values, the heart of "Private Parts" is the sweet, yeah, sweet, story of Howard and his wife, Allison, the psychiatric social worker who stood by him through thick, thin, and boundless bad taste. Howard to this day is still amazed that she married him. He's not the only one.
While I enjoyed the softer side of Howard, including his limitless loyalty to co-workers, what I liked best was Howard's take on himself. He lobs potshots at the bigwigs, sure, but he never stops being self-deprecating, too.
"Private Parts" is a well-made movie full of fun performances. But can we trust a media genius to give us the straight dope about himself? I say we'll never know and it really doesn't matter.
Copyright 1997 Andrea Chase
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