USA TODAY: Howard Stern is making his AGT co-stars “virtually invisible”

It’s not clear what NBC was expecting when it added Howard Stern to the panel on America’s Got Talent (tonight, 8 ET/PT) — or what viewers were hoping or fearing the wildly popular but equally controversial shock jock might bring to the mix. But what they all got was a decent judge of talent who is, at least on his first two live shows last week, taking his job incredibly seriously and doing it quite well.

That’s great. What’s not so great for the show is that he’s making his two co-stars, Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel, seem even more insignificant and inarticulate than they otherwise might. He’s not just overshadowing them; he’s making them virtually invisible.


It didn’t help, of course, that the crowd at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, where the show is shot, seemed to be interested in Stern and Stern alone. After proclaiming at one point that “people want more of me,” Stern stood up and the crowd began to cheer, leading Osbourne to whine, “All these people are here because they get tickets on Howard’s show.”

It’s possible that’s true. It’s also possible that someone could have delivered that line and sounded witty rather than bitter and entitled, but that someone is not Osbourne.

If nothing else, the trio has established a routine that seems likely to carry them through the season. Mandel tries to say something and fails; Osbourne tries to say nothing and succeeds; and Stern steps in with the only thing worth saying.

None of that is Stern’s fault, and he certainly deserves credit for putting some obvious effort into evaluating the acts and offering mostly constructive criticism. He does, however, need to find a way to deliver those evaluations in a more entertaining fashion, as Simon Cowell used to do on AmericanIdol. Outside of one thrown-away “so to speak” double-entendre, broadcast’s content restrictions seem to have stymied Stern’s sense of humor.

And, tough as this may be, Stern needs to find a way to interact with his co-stars that does not come across as harsh and dismissive or ridiculously phony.

The low point came when host Nick Cannon complained about Stern making fun of him on his radio show. Stern responded by saying how “welcoming” and “wonderful” Cannon, Mandel and Osbourne had been to him — a non sequitur that sounded suspiciously scripted, as if some NBC executive had noticed how cold and chemistry-free the panel seemed the night before and had sought corrective action.

The correction NBC needs is to bring the rest of the show up to Stern’s level, a move that includes reminding the director that it’s hard for viewers to vote for acts if they can’t see them. As it is now, Stern is pretty much a one-man show.

Who knows — maybe that’s all the talent this show needs.

5 comments

  1. What this writer doesn’t realize, even tho most of it is complementary, is that where he is critizing HS, he is mistaken. HS is (half) joking when he acts egotisitical and dismissive. Also, he may not want to be as ‘entertaining’ as Simon, because he doesn’t want to be a Simon clone, and he is a little less rude at heart. He is not being phony when he comments how welcoming everyone is, and maybe he accidentially taught Nick proper grammar after goofing on him last year on the radio. But , yes, I only watch for Howard, and the one thing that would make the show better is more Howard…less acts. 😉

  2. It seems like the article’s author is not all that familiar with Howard’s humor, or unable to detect when Howard is being king-like, as a joke.
    I didn’t think that Howard’s remarks (thanking everyone at AGT for being so nice and welcoming) were a “low point” or (as the author suggests) scripted by some NBC exec. It’s weird because he author praises Howard because his opinions are real, but then the minute he says something Simon would never say (in this case, “thank you”) he thinks Howard is reading a prepared statement… maybe the crowd was so much louder for Howard that it became a little awkward, so Howard took the first opportunity he had on the air to say something nice about everyone else that makes the show possible… not because someone at NBC told him to, but because he really does appreciate everyone at AGT… I thought it was a classy move.

    The author sounds like he WANTS to like Howard more than he actually does. If he likes hearing Howard’s opinion on things, he should probably check out a program called THE HOWARD STERN SHOW, where he would’ve heard him say a lot of nice things about NBC execs and his co-stars a few dozen times before he said it on AGT. This author doesn’t have what it takes to write a great review… he should give up this whole writing thing. I’m afraid it’s a “no” for me…sorry.

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