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SiriusXM’s July 4 Firing Of Opie & Anthony Host Raises Free Speech Issues

Mike Fleming

SiriusXM’s July 4 Firing Of Opie & Anthony Host Raises Free Speech IssuesI listened as the radio team of Opie & Anthony got sacked from WNEW-FM radio in 2002 after they launched a Sex for Sam stunt. They sent couples across Manhattan competing to have sex in the most outrageous public place and the hosts got sacked after one randy couple chose St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Ave. It wasn’t their first pink slip, but when the duo signed with SiriusXM, I didn’t think Opie & Anthony would ever get fired again. The satellite radio format allows them to use every cuss word imaginable; same for fellow host Howard Stern. For raunchy content, they are outdone by the explicit sex shows hosted by porn stars on the satellite radio dial, where nothing is out of bounds. Despite this, co-host Anthony Cumia managed to find a way to get fired by SiriusXM anyway, not for radio content but for taking to his personal Twitter account to vilify a woman in foul mouthed fashion that he says punched him when she objected to being in the frame of photos he was taking in Manhattan late at night. Cumia, often a very funny comedian and impressionist who personifies the low-tolerance-cranky white guy on the O&A show, let loose a stream of epithets that insulted her gender, wished her dead, and also identified her as being black. And then betrayed deep-seated prejudice in an ensuing series of hate-filled rants when he received critical reactions. SiriusXM fired him after his Twitter posts made headlines. Read More »

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Should SiriusXM Ask Howard Stern To Take A Pay Cut?

Fans of the shock jock won’t like the conclusions that Macquarie Equities Research’s Amy Young reaches in a new report on this provocative question. HowardSternWhile Howard Stern was a big draw for SiriusXM in 2004 when he agreed to join the satellite radio service, “the sub base is now at 25M and there’s less necessity to strike a deal when his contract comes up for renewal at the end of 2015,” the analyst writes. She bases that conclusion on a survey of 800 SiriusXM customers. It found that 12% listen to Stern, and 30% of this group tune in less than twice a week. More to the point, just 5% of all subs “would consider leaving Sirius XM if he were no longer available.” In addition, 96% say that they aren’t willing to pay extra to have him in the lineup. That indicates that Stern “could have less leverage in the next contract negotiations.” Young says that he took a 20% pay cut in 2010 with a contract that paid $80M a year, and estimates that it could drop another 13% to $70M a year in 2015. “What this tells us: for new entrants or ‘niche’ players, obtaining high-profile anchor content is a key differentiator and important in building a critical mass,” she says. “As the business evolves, it becomes less vital.” That lesson could also affect DirecTV as it negotiates to extend its deal for Read More »

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Howard Stern Mocks Letterman For Leno Détente: Video

A least one Late Show fan isn’t happy over the fact that longtime rivals Jay Leno and David Letterman have evidently patched things up. In an appearance set for tonight’s Late Show With David Letterman, Howard Stern expressed his disappointment with the détente and the Tonight Show host’s recent revelation that he and Letterman talk on the phone. “I work for NBC television now and I’m not speaking to Jay Leno,” the radio host and America’s Got Talent judge told Letterman’s audience. “They ask me to go on his show and I say ‘No, he did Dave wrong, I don’t like it’ …I’m fighting the war, I’m still in the jungle. Check out the exchange here:

Leno On Letterman: What Beef? (VIDEO)
Howard Stern To Return To ‘America’s Got Talent’

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‘America’s Got Talent’ Other Judges Returning To Sit With Howard Stern Next Season

By | Wednesday November 20, 2013 @ 9:46am PST

The news that Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B, and Howie Mandel were returning as judges on NBC‘s summer competition series America’s Got Talent came complete with carefully crafted quotes from the network’s reality-TV chief and the show’s exec producer. The announcement was greeted with — yawns, Stern having made sure he was the headline by announcing his return to the show 24 hours ahead of the NBC announcement. Breaking the news on his SiriusXM radio program, Stern was sure to let listeners know he’s the BFD on AGT, saying, in response to radio sidekick Robin Quivers’ question as to whether Klum, B, and Mandel would be back: “Let’s put it this way: When they asked me if [returning] was conditional, I said … let them all come back.” Here’s the full release:

Related: Howard Stern To Return To ‘America’s Got Talent’

NEW YORK, NY — Nov. 20, 2013 — Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel are set to return as judges to NBC’s top-rated summer competition series “America’s Got Talent.” Nick Cannon will also return as host.

The announcements were made by Paul Telegdy, President of Alternative and Late-Night Programming, NBC Entertainment.

“Howard, Heidi, Mel and Howie have proven that they are a dynamic quartet of judges who aren’t afraid to share their opinions, while at the same time creating fireworks of their own,” Telegdy said. “Along with Nick serving as an incomparable host, our talent on ‘Talent’ is among the finest on all of television.”

“The judges on ‘America’s Got Talent’ this past season were fun, astute and really knew how to spot talent,” said Trish Kinane, Executive Producer and President of Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America. “We are delighted to have this vibrant group of diverse, discerning personalities returning to take the show to new heights next season.”

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Howard Stern To Return To ‘America’s Got Talent’

By | Tuesday November 19, 2013 @ 1:17pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Howard Stern will return as a judge on America’s Got Talent next summer, his third stint on the NBC talent competition series. Stern made the announcement today on his SiriusXM morning radio show. “It started out as a goof. Now it’s becoming a job,” he said. “I am very excited to be going back to America’s Got Talent.” NBC was aggressive in its pursuit of Stern to replace Piers Morgan in 2011, moving production of the show from Los Angeles to New York, where Stern is based, in addition to offering him a big check, believed to be around $15 million. “What a bunch of gracious people,” he said of NBC. “They listened to me. I said I don’t want to travel too much, and they adjusted the scheduling to accommodate me, so they made me feel very special.” Still, the decision to return wasn’t straightforward, he said. “I really, really did struggle with this decision because I’ve been working a long time. I really wanted to decide if this was going to take away too much free time. Did I really still enjoy doing it? Did I have something to say? Is it something I should be involved with still?” Stern joins AGT host Nick Cannon, who also recently announced that he will be back on the show next summer.

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‘Book Of Mormon’s Josh Gad To Play Sam Kinison In Larry Charles-Directed Feature

By | Monday August 5, 2013 @ 12:11pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: David Permut’s long-in-the-works film about the late comic Sam Kinison has taken form. Larry Charles, who helmed the Sacha Baron Cohen comedies Borat, Bruno and The Dictator, has signed on to direct and Josh Gad is set to play the pentecostal preacher-turned-manic standup comedian. Kinison has a script by xXx scribe Rich Wilkes, based on the book Brother Sam by Bill Kinison. Permut will produce, Tom Shadyac and Bill Kinison will be exec producers, and Steve Longi and Permut Presentations’ Chris Mangano will co-produce.

“There was nothing conventional about Sam Kinison and neither will be the cinematic interpretation of his life,” said Permut. “Larry Charles is the perfect director to bring Rich Wilkes’ incredible script to screen, and Josh Gad’s tremendous ability to morph into a role will bring great depth to Kinison’s larger than life persona.”

The film picks up the Kinison story in the 80s, as he transitions from the family business of Pentecostal preaching and into stand up comedy in Hollywood. Kinison and Charles cracked that racket around the same time, when Kinison was tearing tickets for The Comedy Store on Sunset Blvd and waiting for his chance, while Charles was hustling to sell jokes to the headlining comics long before he became writer/producer of Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage. Read More »

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Court Kills Howard Stern’s Appeal In $300M Sirius XM Stock Bonuses Suit

By | Thursday April 11, 2013 @ 11:09am PDT

The New York Supreme Court today handed America’s Got Talent judge Howard Stern a further defeat in his multimillion-dollar suit against Sirius XM. “We agree with the motion court that plaintiffs are not entitled to additional performance-based compensation under the unambiguous agreement between plaintiffs and defendant’s predecessor, Sirius Satellite Radio Inc,” the First Appellate Division wrote today. Justices Rosalyn H. Richter, Angela M. Mazzarelli, Luis A. Gonzalez, Dianne T. Renwick and Judith J. Gische represented the appeals court panel. In a suit filed in March 2011, Stern’s company One Twelve and his agent Don Buchwald claimed that they were owed more than $300 million after Sirius exceeded subscriber targets following its merger with rival XM in 2008. Stern actually did get a $25 million bonus from the company as a result of the merger but he claimed he was expecting more. Judge Barbara Kapnick of the New York State Supreme Court tossed the suit last year on April 17. “Looking solely to the plain language used by the parties within the four corners of the agreement the disputed term “Sirius subscribers,” by which plaintiffs’ performance-based compensation was measured, did not include subscribers to XM Radio, a wholly owned subsidiary which defendant acquired by merger, even though the merger had been anticipated within the agreement,” added the judges today. Read More »

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Another Year Of ‘AGT’: Has Howard Stern Surrendered His Freak Flag For Good?

By | Monday December 3, 2012 @ 9:15am PST
Mike Fleming

It wasn’t too much of a surprise to see Howard Stern return for another season of America’s Got Talent. His new deal ensures NBC returns with its book-end of Howies, Stern on one side and Howie Mandel on the other. It has been obvious to listeners that Stern so loves his judgeship that his return was inevitable, and the salary upwards of $15 million doesn’t hurt. It’s too bad Sharon Osbourne left; the three had instant chemistry rivaled only by the singer-star mentors of The Voice, a show that has a better premise than all of those other wannabe talent parades (I am excluding the fledling Killer Karaoke from consideration; even though it has the most outlandish singing format I’ve ever seen, I fear it’s inevitable somebody will die and that show goes bye bye).

Related: Howard Stern To Return To ‘America’s Got Talent’

What I wonder is, can Stern still hang on to any semblance of his rebel identity, as he continues to veer toward the mainstream? Will he continue to varnish off so much of the old rough edges that he’ll become like everybody else, and stop saying the hard things that people are thinking but no one but him dared utter? And do I have any right to expect him to remain that rebel, just so I don’t have to be reminded that his longtime listeners make our own own inevitable concessions to aging on a daily basis? Read More »

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Howard Stern To Return To ‘America’s Got Talent’

By | Monday December 3, 2012 @ 6:52am PST
Nellie Andreeva

Howard Stern has inked a deal to return as a judge on NBC‘s America’s Got Talent. The shock jock originally joined the reality series last season succeeding Piers Morgan with a one-year pact and had expressed ambivalence about coming back. Stern also got in hot water in August over his bashing of NBC late-night host Jay Leno. “Howard Stern’s towering presence and opinions on last season’s show as a new judge made a dramatic impact and added a sharper edge to the fascinating developments on stage,” said NBC’s head of alternative programming Paul Telegdy. “We know that Howard believes in America’s Got Talent — which remains America’s top-rated summer series — and that dedication comes across in a genuine way to our viewers who share his passion about our amazing talent competition.” With Stern staying put, NBC is faced with filling one vacant seat on the judging panel, that of Sharon Osbourne.

Related: Sharon Osbourne Bids Farewell To NBC’s ‘America’s Got Talent’

Stern commanded a big salary (rumored to be $15 million) and made Talent move production from Los Angeles to New Jersey to accommodate his day job as a radio talk show host. He didn’t bring a ratings boost to the veteran realty series, but this past summer’s edition still finished as the the No. 1 summer broadcast series in adults 18-49 and total viewers. Read More »

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Sharon Osbourne Bids Farewell To NBC’s ‘America’s Got Talent’

By | Friday September 14, 2012 @ 12:01am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

After a series of statements that she would leave NBC‘s America’s Got Talent after this season, judge Sharon Osbourne made it official tonight during Talent‘s season finale. Trying to console dance group The Untouchables, the first act to get eliminated, she said, “Don’t be sad, because it’s my last show, too. So we’re leaving together!” I hear NBC brass have already started the process of finding a replacement. Meanwhile, fellow judge Howard Stern, who doesn’t have a deal beyond this season, did not address his plans tonight. The network has made it clear that it would like the shock jock back.

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‘American’s Got Talent’ Judge Howard Stern Bashing Jay Leno? What Did NBC Expect?

By | Wednesday August 29, 2012 @ 7:08am PDT
Mike Fleming

The ongoing dispute between Howard Stern and Jay Leno got a new injection of bad blood when Stern acknowledged on his SiriusXM radio show that an NBC executive (where Stern moonlights as an America’s Got Talent judge) asked him to refrain from Jaybashing. The first thing that comes to mind is: did these NBC execs never listen to Stern’s radio rants on Leno before paying him somewhere around $17 million a year and moving that talent show from Los Angeles to New Jersey to accommodate his radio schedule?

Stern’s bad feelings about Leno go back to the time that the latter hired away Stern staffer “Stuttering” John Melendez without asking Stern if it was okay. Since then, the bashing has been relentless, particularly after Conan O’Brien was given the Tonight Show and was undercut by a Leno moved to prime time, which was a disaster that contributed to Jeff Zucker losing his job at NBC. Stern and all of the rival late night hosts, including David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel have all been vocal in their dislike over the way Leno handled things (though I never understood why nobody gave O’Brien the same kind of grief when, after taking an NBC buyout in the $30 million range, took the TBS job when George Lopez moved his chat show time slot to accommodate O’Brien, with Lopez’s show getting scrapped not long … Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘NCIS’ Ends Up, ‘Private Practice’ Way Up

By | Wednesday May 16, 2012 @ 10:01am PDT

NCIS Ratings Tuesday brought more finales, more Howard Stern and a good night for NCIS and Private Practice. The 8 PM season finale of CBS’ NCIS (3.5/11) was up 13% from last week. The end of the police procedural series’s ninth season, which saw Jamie Lee Curtis return, was the No. 1 show of the night. The following two-hour finale of NCIS: LA (3.0/8) was even with last week. The second broadcast of America’s Got Talent (3.4/10) with Stern as a judge was down 8% from Monday’s premeire and last year’s second night. On the upside, Talent scored a season time period high for NBC in the Tuesday 8-10 PM slot; the show was up 48% from season averages, with 10.4 million viewers. The 10 PM Fashion Star (1.6/4) finale was up 23% from last week’s 8 PM show. Over on the CW, the season finale of 90210 (0.5/2) was down from last week. L.A. Complex (0.2/1) matched its series low of last week. CBS won the night among adults 18-49 and total viewers. Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: No Howard Stern Surge For ‘America’s Got Talent’

By | Tuesday May 15, 2012 @ 10:32am PDT

America's Got Talent RatingsIt was a night of finales and premieres and Howard Stern promising to play nice in primetime. The self-proclaimed King of All Media’s debut as a judge on NBC’s America’s Got Talent (3.6/10) was down 16% from last season’s May 31 opener but still won the 9 PM slot Monday. The two-hour season premiere came in just short of last week’s The Voice finale. On CBS, the hourlong finale of How I Met Your Mother (3.6/10) was up 9% from two weeks ago. The Two And A Half Men (3.8/10) finale was even with the previous week. Mike & Molly (3.3/8) and Hawaii Five-0 (2.7/7) were up 6% and 17% respectively in their season-enders.

Related: Howard Stern Promises To Keep It Clean On ‘America’s Got Talent’

CBS took the night in adults 18-49, but ABC won in total viewers. Read More »

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Howard Stern Promises To Keep It Clean On ‘America’s Got Talent’

By | Thursday May 10, 2012 @ 11:30am PDT

Howard Stern America's Got TalentHis language was clean, but America’s Got Talent‘s newest judge Howard Stern came out swinging today — especially against his new primetime rivals and critics. “American Idol is tired,” said Stern during a New York news conference ahead of his debut on the show’s Season 7 premiere May 14. “Ryan Seacrest wants to be the next Dick Clark; I got news for him, Dick Clark isn’t here anymore.” The Sirius XM DJ also mocked Idol’s Jennifer Lopez as lacking any bite as a judge. He also lampooned Britney Spears’ becoming a judge on The X Factor with Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid. “Britney still thinks the earth is flat,” laughed Stern. “We are going to tune in to see if she can function through the thing.” Stern also dismissed recent criticism by the Parents Television Council that he would be too explicit for NBC primetime. “This is a family show, it’s a different type of entertainment; I know the rules,” he said. Read More »

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PTC Launches Pre-Emptive Strike Against Howard Stern On ‘America’s Got Talent’

Howard Stern Parents Television CouncilThe Parents Television Council has been quick to pounce on any number of series or personalities it considers unsafe for the public airwaves, but today’s letter to advertisers of NBC’s America’s Got Talent takes the step of condemning a show that hasn’t had a chance to offend anyone yet. In its missive, the PTC for a second time rips the network for bringing on Howard Stern as a judge on the show in the family-friendly 8 PM time slot. Of course, Talent doesn’t premiere until May 14, but no sense in waiting — let’s just assume Stern is going to provide “a sharp increase in explicit content”. From the letter: “There can be, and there must be, a presumption that Mr. Stern will only continue to conduct himself in precisely the same manner as he has done for decades. Unless and until his conduct consistently reflects and respects the time, place and manner of an 8:00 p.m. broadcast television program, we would urge you and your advertising agency to consider alternate network television programming for your media dollars.” The tactic is similar to the one used last year to attack NBC’s The Playboy Club — though it turned out that series didn’t need much help in being shown the door.

Related: Howard Stern Answers Critics Of His New Job As ‘America’s Got Talent’ Judge Read More »

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Howard Stern Appeals Ruling In Lawsuit Against Sirius XM

By | Thursday April 26, 2012 @ 9:38am PDT

As expected, Howard Stern’s production company One Twelve and his agent Don Buchwald have appealed a judge’s dismissal of a lawsuit earlier this month against Sirius XM over disputed stock awards from his original contract with the satellite radio company. Judge Barbara Kapnick of the New York State Supreme Court threw out the suit April 17. It claimed Stern’s company and Buchwald were owed more than $300 million after Sirius exceeded subscriber targets following its merger with rival XM. But Kapnick ruled that the contract language “is inconsistent with any reading that the parties intended subscribers acquired by merger with XM to be considered” in awarding stock, calling the disputing wording “clear” and “unambiguous”.

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Howard Stern’s Lawsuit Against Sirius XM Dismissed

By | Tuesday April 17, 2012 @ 9:10am PDT

Howard Stern Lawsuit Sirius XMHoward Stern had claimed his employer owned him additional stock awards for exceeding subscriber targets that would have totaled more than $300 million — targets exceeded when Sirius merged with rival XM Satellite Radio. But Judge Barbara Kapnick of the New York State Supreme Court wrote in an order dated Monday that the contract language “is inconsistent with any reading that the parties intended subscribers acquired by merger with XM to be considered.” She called the disputed wording “clear” and “unambiguous”. In the suit filed by his production company and agent against Sirius in March 2011, the company’s highest-profile and highest-paid DJ said the sub gains that resulted when Sirius merged with XM should be counted as part of the math that calculated Stern’s compensation in his original blockbuster five-year, $500 million contract that brought Stern over from terrestrial radio. The lawsuit came three months after Stern signed a new five-year deal to remain at Sirius XM, a move that launched a war of words between Stern and Sirius XM boss Mel Karmazin, who at one point claimed he wasn’t in favor of Stern’s original blockbuster deal in the first place, though Karmazin was plenty happy when Stern landed his high-profile judging gig on NBC’s America’s Got Talent.

Howard Stern Vs. Mel Karmazin: Round 2
Howard Stern Vs. Mel Karmazin: It’s War!

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Howard Stern On ‘America’s Got Talent’ Will Be Good For Sirius XM, CEO Says: Video

By | Friday March 9, 2012 @ 9:07am PST

Mel Karmazin, the satellite radio company’s colorful CEO, is on a victory lap of sorts with his stock up more than 29% so far in 2012. He told CNBC’s Jim Cramer last night that he’s glad to see shock jock Howard Stern become a judge on NBC’s talent show America’s Got Talent: Calling Stern the “greatest radio performer of all time”, he adds that “the bigger Howard gets … the better it is for us.” (Cramer didn’t ask about Stern’s suit claiming Sirius XM owes him money for helping to boost subs.) Karmazin adds that he feels “very good about subscriber growth” despite the 11.9% price hike in January to $14.49 a month.

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Super Bowl NBC Promos: ‘The Voice’, ‘Tonight Show’ And ‘America’s Got Talent’

By | Sunday February 5, 2012 @ 6:17pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

NBC Enlists Pete Berg And Madonna For Series Promo Blitz During The Super Bowl
Video: NBC’s Musical Brotherhood Of Man

NBC took to the Super Bowl to promote most of its shows. It was exactly two years ago that Betty White’s appearance in a Super Bowl commercial launched the red-hot new stage of her career. NBC is hoping that her luck would rub off its reality series The Voice, whose big-budget, Pete Berg-directed Super Bowl promo featured the 90-year-old actress. Jay Leno’s Tonight Show spot with Madonna came nowhere near the fun Super Bowl spot he did for rival David Letterman two years ago. NBC also used the big game to introduce new America’s Got Talent judge Howard Stern, who behaved more like his outrageous shock jock persona than the thoughtful expert NBC brass have been touting. “Aside from his radio persona he is a very thoughtful, intelligent person,” NBC chief Bob Greenblatt said in January. “He is a huge fan of the show and wants to be a very good judge. … I don’t think he wants to be a shock jock judge. … AGT won’t become the Howard Stern Circus.” Judge for yourselves.

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