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A Stern Hand on American Idol?

BU alum may replace Simon Cowell


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In the video above, students spout on Simon Cowell as the villain turned hero of American Idol and whether Howard Stern would be a suitable substitute.

At the end of its ninth season in mid-March, American Idol will say good-bye to Simon Cowell, the judge on the top-rated reality show that people might love to hate or hate to love, but tune in to see. Replacing him with someone just as boisterous and blunt is a tall order.

But the perfect fit may be a BU alum: Howard Stern.

The Sirius radio shock-jock is rumored to be a top contender to fill Cowell’s seat. What Stern (CGS’74,COM’76) lacks in music industry experience, he more than makes up for in hard-hitting, raucous, raunchy commentary.

Stern has responded on air to fans’ criticism that he’s sold out by considering a stint on American Idol.

“Of course it’s a sell-out,” he said. “It’s a dumb karaoke contest concept. I don’t give a sh*# about American Idol, but it would be a fun gig.”

Cowell is well known in the television and music industry, especially in his native England, where he’s the executive producer and star of top-rated The X Factor. He’s also the executive producer of America’s Got Talent and produces and judges Britain’s Got Talent.

The controversial Stern revels in pushing the envelope, using his radio talk show to engage everyone from Penthouse pets of the month to rock stars and comedians, often delving into non-PC discussions, personal rants, and X-rated variety stunts.

Stern doesn’t doubt he’s qualified for the job: “Sit there and judge? I do that anyway.”

The stars may align in a business sense as well; Cowell leaves American Idol at the end of this season, and Stern’s contract with Sirius expires at the end of 2010. The question remains whether Fox, which broadcasts the singing competition, can afford the BU alum. Stern makes $100 million a year; Cowell is paid half that amount.

Stern denies he’s using American Idol as leverage against Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin to secure a bigger contract.

“He knows exactly what I’m worth to him,” Stern said on air. “There’s no negotiating.”

Should he join the show, Stern would sit alongside judges Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi, and newly arrived Ellen Degeneres, with whom he hardly plans to play nice.

“I’m not just giving opinions on music,” Stern predicted. “I’m giving opinions on Ellen.”

Bloviating aside, Stern expressed on-air doubts last Tuesday about his American Idol future.

“It’d be very difficult for them to get me to do that job,” he said.

Leslie Friday can be reached at lfriday@bu.edu. Nicolae Ciorogan can be reached at ciorogan@bu.edu.


5 Comments on A Stern Hand on American Idol?

  • Anonymous on 02.16.2010 at 8:52 am

    How embarassing.

  • BaBaBooey on 02.16.2010 at 7:43 pm

    lacks in music industry experience?

    Keep in mind, the Private Parts album .. which Stern appears on .. debuted at #1 on the Billboard Charts – and he’s debuted countless artists that are now mega stars right in the studio during his shows. Anybody ever hear of Bon Jovi?

    He knows more about the music industry than you think.

  • Anonymous on 02.17.2010 at 9:47 am

    He’s not going to do it.

    Howard is a very smart man.

  • Anonymous on 02.17.2010 at 11:56 am

    100 Million??

    Sterns deal was 90 or 95 million for 5 years. Not the reported 100 million per year…

  • Anonymous on 02.17.2010 at 6:30 pm

    100 Million?

    Sterns deal with Sirius was actually for 500 million over 5 years. Google it before you make inaccurate comments.

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