While NBC certainly hired shock jock Howard Stern to take a spot at the America’s Got Talent judges table to rustle some feathers, they may be getting more than they bargained for. The Parents Television Council is speaking out against the new judge, and they’ve got no intention of backing down.
The famously outspoken judge earned NBC another stint in the hot seat May 7, when the PTC released a letter meant for potential advertisers urging them to boycott the NBC program as long as Stern is attached. (NBC was also targeted for their Fall 2011 series The Playboy Club.) The letter was addressed to the 91 corporations who’ve served as sponsors for the NBC series in past years and states, “The risk of associating your hard-earned corporate brand image with such ‘shock’ is not worth the cost involved – a cost not just in terms of wasted media dollars, but also in terms of countless millions of dollars in customer goodwill.”
But Stern’s appearances in promos and clips from the upcoming season of AGT give little weight to the fear that he’ll be too outrageous for 8 PM audiences. In fact, the glimpses of his turn on the show are almost alarmingly tame. Even Steven Tyler has seemingly made more people uncomfortable on American Idol.
So why go after NBC now, when viewers are seeing a more softer side of Stern? Dan Issett, the director of public policy for the PTC, tells Hollywood.com the plea is based on Stern’s past behavior. “Howard Stern’s reputation for sleaze and misogyny is well known,” Issett says. “There is a reasonable presumption that Mr. Stern will only continue to conduct himself in precisely the same manner as he has done for decades.”
But is there any circumstance under which the PTC would be accepting of Stern — who once famously said Idol winner Fantasia Barrino wasn’t sexually stimulating enough for teen boys — at the judges’ table? Could he tone it down enough to satisfy the council? That’s not too likely, says Issett. “For us, the question is not about the exact behavior Stern has to reign in to appear on a once family-friendly broadcast TV show that airs at 8 PM,” Issett says. “The issue is that in light of Stern’s decades-long penchant for profanity, his affinity for degrading and sexualizing women, and his proclivity for vulgar and explicit dialog, prudent advertisers should not risk underwriting such material.” (NBC has yet to respond to Hollywood.com’s request for comment.)
Do you think Stern’s reputation for grotesque commentary disqualifies him from judging AGT? Will you tune in to see what the usually shocking host will say? Will you tune out?