It's easy to kick around NBC right now because of where the ratings have been for the network, and some unexplainable acts (like canceling their No. 1 scripted drama).
But this is a network that does know talent when they see it. Whose shows are actually quite good (even if people can't seem to find them). And who got it right when they hired Howard Stern for "America's Got Talent."
Yeah, I'm not giving up on this. In the seven seasons of "America's Got Talent," I have watched a grand total of two episodes -- the first two episodes that aired this past week featuring Stern, Howie Mandell and Sharon Osbourne as judges. Why? Because I finally feel like this show is worth my time, not only looking for talent among Americans, but also because there is finally a set of judges who are both entertaining and who I actually feel confident can make some good decisions.
However, it's more than entertaining part that has me coming back.
I'll admit that Stern's show plays on my Sirius satellite radio pretty often. And while there are times I feel I have to turn the dial (like we all have the ability to do if we don't care about something), I find that Stern is brilliant in terms of his entertainment talent, has extreme charm with everyone he comes in contact with, and is still one of the best interviewers I've ever had the pleasure of listening to.
And I understand why some family groups are speaking out against him. Yes, his radio show is not for children, and not for the faint of heart. It contains vulgar language, vulgar situations, what some might call juvenile-level pranks, and Robin Quivers. I only include Robin because, well, a lot of time is spent about how she gets men's hearts pumping and their blood pressures to rise.
But that is the radio show. None of that is at "AGT," and if it is, that's why there are editors. If anyone has ever taken the time to read Stern's book "Private Parts" or at least watch the 1997 film based on it, you will find that while Stern is honest about who he is on the air and simply says what he's thinking (no matter how outlandish it is), this is still a personality relegated to the radio, and is much different from Howard Stern the human being.
Yes, Howard Stern is a human being. He raised three daughters. He is very happily married to only his second wife (to whom he says he is 100 percent faithful to), and he never pretends that his radio show is anything more than entertainment for the very specific audience it reaches.
I have read more than once where NBC has resurrected Stern's career. Why would NBC need to do that? They needed a big name to judge "AGT," and they're certainly not going to start in the has-beens pile. They are going to start with current star power, and they started and stopped on the same person: Howard Stern.
Millions of people pay monthly radio subscriptions to tune in to Stern, despite the fact he's barely on three days a week, and only a couple weeks out of each month. But that's enough to keep a huge fan base happy, and the fan base is huge.
Judging the first two episodes, Stern did nothing that would make a grandmother blush. Instead, he was funny, charming and likable -- not a surprise because Stern himself is funny, charming and likable.
The fact is, "AGT" is now worth watching, at least for me. And I get to enjoy all the aspects of the show, including the three people who are now my favorite television judges.
So kudos, NBC. You did the right thing by hiring Howard Stern. Baba booey.
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