January 23, 2013
Howard Stern, Mary McCormack, and Paul Giamatti
Howard Stern joined the panel on America's Got
Talent in the summer of 2012, and my first and immediate
reaction was "Oh sweet, Howard's back." You see, I have
always been a big Howard Stern fan. I listened to his morning
radio show just about every single day of my life in the 1990's.
I bought both of his books. I even quit a job once
in college because they wouldn't let us listen to the Stern show on the
radio in the back of the warehouse. Heck, I even agonized
over not watching Saturday Night Live anymore when he put his own
nighttime show up against it on Saturdays starting in 1994.
Yes, you heard me right. The guy (me) who has never
missed an episode of Saturday Night Live since 1984, and I actually
considered not watching it anymore because Howard Stern had a competing
show on Saturday for a while.
I wouldn't have done that for just anyone. I would only have
done that for one of my comedy idols.
Well Howard sort of disappeared from mainstream pop culture
around 2004 or so. That was the year that he got sick of the
FCC breathing down his neck, and he left mainstream radio and decided
to go to Sirius XM. And, well, that is the year that he kind
of disappeared. Yes, I know he still has millions of
listeners on Sirius, and I know he is still a big deal to his diehard
fans. But the minute he bolted to satellite was the year that
he lost most of his clout in mainstream America. I honestly
haven't heard his voice on a radio in nearly a decade.
Anyway, what I am getting at is that in 2012 he joined America's Got
Talent. And my first reaction was "Oh sweet, Howard's back."
And of course everyone who hates Howard (believe me there are
a lot of people who hate him), well their first thought was "Oh crap,
we have to deal with this asshole again."
And then there were lots of young people I have talked to, and their
first reaction was "Who is this Howard Stern guy?"
I was quite amazed at the reaction when Howard Stern came back to TV.
And it wasn't the cheering that amazed me, or the booing
(with Stern you have to always expect to see both). No, what
amazed me was that so many people didn't seem to realize who he was.
And what a big deal it was that was coming to prime time TV.
In fact, when I asked a lot of younger people who knew him
from America's Got Talent what they thought of him, I don't think I
talked to one person under the age of 25 who even knew that there had
actually been a movie about him.
Wow, I thought when I realized this. Has Howard Stern really
been out of the mainstream that long? Has he been hiding on
satellite so long that there is an entire generation out there that
doesn't realize what a big deal he used to be?
I was amazed when I found this out. And I vowed that day that
if I ever sat down and made a list of the most forgotten and
underappreciated movies in movie history, one of the first ones I would
write about would be Private Parts.
Private Parts came out in the summer of 1997, and to this day it is
probably the most memorable movie I have ever seen in a theater.
And the reason it was so memorable wasn't because the movie
was great (even though it was). No, the reason I will never
forget that evening in 1997 is because the entire theater that night
was fucking INSANE.
I saw Private Parts on opening night. And that was a mistake.
Because the entire theater was just wall to wall with Howard
Stern fanatics. And, well, Howard Stern fanatics are not
known for being particularly well behaved. So the entire
night was people cheering whenever Howard showed up on screen.
And cheering whenever Robin (his sidekick) showed up on
screen. And cheering whenever Baba Booey (his producer)
showed up on screen. And screaming "FUCK JACKIE" whenever
Jackie the Joke Man showed up on screen. It was just crazy.
You couldn't hear 80% of the movie because the audience was
so loud and they drowned everything out. I actually had to go
watch it again a couple of weeks later so the audience would be less
interactive and you could actually hear the dialogue.
Yes, this is how crazy Howard Stern fans were back when the guy was at
his peak. At one point he really was the King of all Media.
Howard Stern wrote his autobiography in 1993. It was called
"Private Parts" (he writes in the book that he wanted to call it
"Howard Stern's Penis" but the publisher nixed it. So "Howard
Stern's Private Parts" was as close as he could get.) And
because he really did have about a bazillion listeners back then, it
was an immediate hit. Man, that book was just a monster.
If you want to read a funny book you should check it
Upon its release, Private Parts quickly became the
fastest-selling title in publisher Simon & Schuster's history.
The sales were supported by Stern's book signing tour of various cities
across the United States, with the largest crowd attendances ever...
Private Parts spent a total of twenty weeks on the Times Best Seller
list, hitting the number one spot after a week of its release
Well since the book was such a big hit, it was immediately announced
that Paramount was going to make a movie out of it. Yes, it
was going to be Howard Stern's motion picture debut. And of
course everyone expected that it was going to turn out to be a
vulgar raunchy juvenile piece of crap. Which, even Stern
diehards will admit, most of his stuff generally is.
Well much to everyone's surprise, the movie was NOT a piece of crap.
In fact a lot of people at the time called it one of the best
comedies of the 90's. Heck even my wife (who generally hates
Howard Stern) loved the movie. And you can go down the IMDB
and read review after review where people say the exact same thing.
The best reviews all say some variant of "Well I can't stand
Howard Stern. I hate him. I hate everything he has
ever done. But his movie was great."
Believe me, I didn't see it coming either. But Private Parts
is a fantastic movie and it is a shame that so many people nowadays
don't even seem to know it exists.
There isn't much to say about the movie itself. I mean, it is
the story of the rise of Howard Stern. From his humble
beginnings as a 6'6" dork who looks like Big Bird and who gets yelled
at a lot by his dad, to the guy who basically controlled New York radio
for most of the 80's and 90's. If you actually sit down and
watch the movie it is actually a cool little story. Very few
people have had the rags to riches career path that Howard Stern has
One of the best things about the movie is that Howard isn't afraid to
show you what a dork he used to be
Howard Stern actually plays himself in the movie, and it is quite
remarkable how good he is at playing himself. I mean, you
think that would be easy to do, because it sounds simple, but a lot of
people can't play a believable version of themself. It is
much harder than you think it is. But Howard Stern does it,
in his first (and I believe only) movie appearance.
Howard isn't the only person who plays himself, of course.
All of the members of his radio team play themselves.
And they all do a great job (in particular his writer Fred
Norris, who steals the movie any time he opens his mouth.)
But the real star of the movie isn't Howard Stern. Nope.
You would think that it would be, since it is his movie and
all, but he is only the second best character in the movie.
No, the real star of Private Parts is Kenny "Pig Vomit" Rushton.
Howard Stern's producer at NBC. As played by a
young Paul Giamatti.
Private Parts wasn't Paul Giamatti's first movie, but it was the first
movie where people really started to notice who he was. And
if you sit down and watch Private Parts it is easy to see why.
Paul Giamatti completely owns every scene he is in.
In fact, this movie is the reason he is such a famous actor
today. It all started with his war with Howard Stern in
Seriously, if you watch this movie, just wait for any scene where
Howard and Pig Vomit have to deal with one another. Now that
is comedy gold. I defy even people who hate Howard Stern with
a passion not to be amused by the Pig Vomit scenes.
"You have spoiled the sanctity of my home! You are the
In the end, Private Parts is an autobiography. It is the
story of Howard Stern. And how the biggest dork in Long
Island somehow turned into a radio god. It is a really good
However, it is also a love story. Yes, a lot of people seem
to forget that, since most people haven't seen this movie in years.
But if you go back and rewatch Private Parts you will be
surprised by how sweet and how charming it is. It actually
wasn't as raunchy as you think it was. A good chunk of the
movie (I would say about 40%) is dedicated to how Howard met
his wife Alison. And how they stayed together through the
years through all of the craziness.
Howard and his wife Alison (Mary McCormack)
Is Private Parts funny? Of course it is. There are
some really funny scenes in this movie. And most of them are
nowhere as dirty or as tasteless as you think they will be.
It was probably a really big help that this movie was
directed by a female (Betty Thomas).
Of course there are SOME tasteless scenes. I mean, come on,
it wouldn't be a Howard Stern movie without a little raunchiness.
The scene where a woman has an orgasm because a subwoofer
certainly comes to mind.
In the end though, Private Parts is just as sweet as it is
funny. And that is the aspect of the movie that I think
really resonated with people. I remember when it came out in
1997, I'm not sure there was a critic alive who claimed to dislike this
movie. They all said some variant of the same thing:
"Well I'll be damned how he did it, but somehow Howard Stern
actually made a cute little love story. Yes, I am as
surprised as you are."
In fact here is the very first paragraph from Roger Ebert's 1997 review:
Howard Stern has been accused of
a lot of things, but he has never been accused of being dumb. With
``Private Parts,'' his surprisingly sweet new movie, he makes a canny
career move: Here is radio's bad boy walking the finest of lines
between enough and too much.
This is one of those endearing little underdog stories that you can't
help but like
In 1996, it was announced that Howard Stern was going to make a movie.
And I should know, because I listened to his radio show.
He talked about it every day. For nearly a year, he
would never shut up about his movie and how hard they were
working on it, and how good it was turning out to be. And in
particular, he would rave about this amazing actor named Paul Giamatti
that they had discovered, and how funny he was and how everybody was
going to love him.
Like I said, this was every day on Howard's radio show. Every
single day. He would rave about Private Parts. For
almost a year.
Then one day Howard announced that the movie was finished and that they
had put together some test screenings. And then he announced
that the scores in the test screenings were unbelievably high.
In fact at one point he bragged that the test scores for
Private Parts WERE THE HIGHEST OF ANY MOVIE IN PARAMOUNT HISTORY.
Of course people heard him brag about this on the air and they just
rolled their eyes.
Yeah, sure. Sure Howard, I'm sure your little Private Parts
movie is amazing and I'm sure it is getting these unbelievable scores.
Yes I am sure that mainstream American is ready to embrace a
Howard Stern movie. Whatever.
Well look what we knew. Turns out he was right.
Whether you like Howard Stern or you hate him, it really doesn't matter
in the end. When it came out in the theaters nearly everyone
loved Private Parts. This is one fantastic movie that really
should be remembered better than it is.
"I hate Howard Stern. What a pig."
favorite IMDB user reviews about Private Parts:
What can I say? A great
story, very well told. - 16 December 2006
I was astonished.
I just wanted to see a couple of emerging fave actors work, so I rented
this, 9 years after it came out.
I was completely surprised. Stern is a fantastic film actor.
guess this is a testimony to the power of fine production. I was
expecting to have to wallow through an indulgent ego-fest. I wound up
being moved. Good acting, good story, good production, a lot of soul.
It's also a little bit of a nostalgia rush for the boomers.
If you like a rockem-sockem cavalcade of wild humor and delightful
conflict, check it out.
Don't really like the guy
but love the movie. - 6 May 2002
ratings that I see on Private Parts really do the movie an injustice.
As of now I see the ratings are at 6.5, but I have to tell you that I'd
give it a 9.
Stern is not GLORIFYING himself here. He's just
telling a story as to how he got to where he is and in many cases
criticizes himself. The movie is by no means egotistical which is what
I TOTALLY expected to find. Instead it leads you through a tale of
Poverty to Success.
Great Job Howard. I may not like you much, but you really pulled this
This could have been so
bad: instead, it's a masterpiece - 24 January 2007
I SO enjoyed this movie.
I watched this movie without realizing until close to the end that
Howard Stern was playing himself.
was a radio announcer myself, during the period when Stern got going.
This movie has the 'feel' of reality to it. I recognized so many of the
people I worked with in this movie. Every radio station has some of
them. The studios of the period were just like this.
this movie was severely compressed in time and space. Radio is like
warfare: lengthy periods of utter boredom punctuated by periods of pure
panic. We don't need to see the slow bits. Each hour of on-air radio
presentation requires something like three hours of preparation: we
don't see the hard work that goes into such a show.
We do see a
very funny and entertaining movie. Don't forget, I was in the industry
at the time this all happened: and this one feels 'real' to me.
autobiographical pieces by "stars" turn into awful sycophantic
schmaltz-fests. This one didn't. It could have been awful. Most of this
kind are. This one... is excellent.
And if you've never worked in broadcasting -- it's still very funny!
Marvelous feature with
shockingly original screenplay and approach - 12 August 2001
I detest Howard Stern and viewed this film under protest. Surprisingly,
I found it to be my favorite American film in some time.
the movie is based upon biographical material and many of the principal
characters play themselves, director Betty Thomas does a marvelous job
of creating a fresh feel of taking us behind the scenes. Equally
surprising is that Stern allows his warts and ego to be on full
display. Private Parts, in its own way, is a far more trenchant essay
on the state of the American entertainment industry than The Player or
love story! - 18 December 2004
should first confess that I find Howard Stern's radio and TV shows to
be redundant, banal and permanently locked in male adolescence. Having
been a male adolescent at one point in my life, I can tell you with
authority that it's the stupidest part of any man's life, by far.
yet, I found Private Parts to be a surprisingly uplifting and touching
love story, and in some parts, extremely funny -- even clever. It's a
well-made story of a young man trying to find his way in the world,
supported by a loving wife who stands by him, no matter what.
have said that this film contains a lot of inaccurate information about
who did what when -- forget all that, and just watch the movie as a
story. It's a shame that Howard Stern's real life isn't *exactly* like
this film's plot -- but anyone with more than a half-functioning
adolescent brain knew that before they walked into the film, didn't
they? It's a movie, folks, not a documentary.
There are some
great scenes in this movie -- this was the first film in which I got to
see Paul Giamatti act, and he's perfect. Howard Stern and his sidekicks
all acquit themselves well as actors, although I can't imagine any of
them ever playing any role other than themselves.
Bottom line: this is a fun and surprisingly touching movie.
Stern is good -
9 April 2012
a long term listener of Howard Stern I was satisfied with the
adaptation of the book to the big screen. Betty Thomas was smart enough
to allow Howard be himself. It works because Stern is not really
acting. Having heard the actual tapes of his father berating him as a
kid, seeing Richard Portnow as Ben, was dead on accurate and funny as
The other highlight is Paul Giamatti as the program
director called pig vomit, who is hired to control Stern's free
wheeling and often vulgar on air persona. At one point the self
proclaimed king of all media is subjected to a lecture on the proper
way of announcing wnbc with a prolonged and exaggerated W "NNNNNNNBC;"
it is exactly as it happened because I actually heard the broadcast and
the constant battles between Howie and the management at the now
defunct radio station.
Previous to the WNBC job, we see the
struggle from college radio to Briarcliff, NY to Hartford, Ct. to
Detroit and the last stop before the Big Apple is Washington, D.C. It
is a ride filled with odd ball characters, nude women and people
behaving badly, all for the ratings, and it works due to Stern's
ability to communicate at the level of a regular guy. The film is well
made and should be entertaining even for non listeners.
Terrific and very funny
biopic - 7 September 2010
Stern has only ever been a vaguely familiar figure here in the UK. When
Private Parts first came out I knew who he was and had seen a short
segment about him on TV. My opinion of him was not good. From the small
amount of information I had, he seemed like a completely unlikeable
malicious idiot with an annoying haircut. So I certainly had some
preconceptions about the man before seeing this film. After seeing it,
I had to admit that, like most things in life, the truth is much more
complex. In actual fact I came away from Private Parts liking and
respecting Mr Stern quite a bit. Quite a turn-around.
with a biopic it's good to have very little knowledge of the subject.
The trajectory of the story is then more surprising to you. This was
true for me with Private Parts, as I had no real clue about Howard
Stern's rise to fame. However, what surprised me the most was Stern's
character. He was not afraid to paint himself as pathetic, and the
honesty of this approach is the key to why it's such a compelling film.
Some people have commented that this movie is self-serving and that
Stern portrays himself as some kind of misunderstood innocent. While I
can't definitively say if this is true or not, my gut feeling is that
he depicts himself in a fairly honest way. Many times he shows himself
to be seriously uncool and pathetic. And because his whole shtick is
about not holding back and saying what he thinks, you can't help but
feel that this ethos must apply to the movie too, and this is most
probably what he is like.
The film is often very funny, and I
can't really often say this for most comedies. It mixes standard biopic
drama with some inventive comedy moments that recall the style of Woody
Allen; although an admittedly lower-brow Woody Allen with a fair
smattering of naked women. But still, it's in that general ball-park.
Stern is very good as, well, Stern. I think it's quite a reasonable
achievement to be fair as it's actually not always that easy playing
yourself. Take a look at a few of the cameo appearances in some of the
episodes of Extras for proof of this bizarre truth. Anyway, he is a
compelling central character, whose underlying personality seems to be
very decent. Paul Giamatti is the other actor who stands out. His
portrayal of Pig Vomit is hilarious.
This is a great comic
biopic. You certainly do not need to be familiar with its lead
character to enjoy it, as it's a very well delivered and funny story.
The humour never feels forced either, it just flows into the narrative.
I am surprised I like Private Parts so much. It really changed my view
of Howard Stern. Except I still think he has an annoying haircut.
My favorite trivia about
* Julia Louis-Dreyfus was originally cast as Alison, but backed out to
spend time with her family.
* Jeff Goldblum was originally considered to play Howard.
* The character of Kenny 'Pig Vomit' Rushton is based on Kevin Metheny,
the WNBC radio program director at the time. In real life, Howard
called him 'Pig Virus', not 'Pig Vomit'. Pig Vomit was the name of the
group that did Howard's opening theme song for his radio show at the
* Philip Seymour Hoffman was considered for the role of Kenny 'Pig
* Mary McCormack originally did not want accept the role of Alison
because of Stern's controversial reputation. She accepted the chance to
audition only because she wanted to meet director Betty Thomas. When
McCormack told Thomas that she was refusing the role, Thomas encouraged
McCormack to listen to Stern's radio show and meet him in person.
McCormack became a fan of the show and accepted the role.
* According to Howard Stern, he at first believed that he would be able
to improvise throughout the movie as he does on his radio show and did
not memorize his lines. Producer Ivan Reitman had to pull Stern aside
and explained to him that he needed to learn his lines as scripted.
* Howard Stern, Robin Quivers, and Fred Norris were still doing their
morning radio show five days a week during production on the film.
Every morning, they would go immediately to the set after the show.
* If there is one downer about watching Private Parts, it is the
knowledge that Howard and his wife Alison split up about ten years
later. It is kind of tough to watch it as a love story when
you know things eventually didn't work out between them and they got
divorced. Oh well. It is still a good love story.
favorite scene in Private Parts:
Any scene with Paul Giamatti is hilarious. If for no other
reason you should give Private Parts a chance specifically for him.
The best scene is where he tries to "break" Howard by
torturing him with the call letters. Everyone loves that
scene. No Howard, it's "W NNNNNNNNN B C."
at the IMDB
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