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RSVP / INTO THE NIGHT

Uh, Can You Say Over the Top?

March 03, 1997|BILL HIGGINS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Scene: The wildly boisterous world premiere of Paramount's Howard Stern biopic, "Private Parts," at New York's Madison Square Garden Theater. To call the affair an outrageous, surreal extravaganza would be an understatement. "This is the quintessential, insane New York event," said Warner Records exec Jeff Gold, which might also be an understatement.

The Arrival: Seventh Avenue rush-hour traffic was stopped for 15 minutes (boy, was this popular) to allow Stern, waving from a bulletproof Popemobile, to cross at 31st Street. He was escorted by eight police cars and an armored, tank-like vehicle. Plans had called for Stern to exit his pontifical limo, enter the bucket of a chiffon-draped cherry-picker and float above 10,000 frenzied fans. This was canceled because of wind, obviously not because anyone thought additional excess would be in poor taste.

Who Was There: Stern, director Betty Thomas, producer Ivan Reitman, executive producer Keith Samples, plus 4,200 invited guests, including Eddie Murphy, Joan Rivers, the Fugees, Patty Hearst, Donald Trump, David Lee Roth, Tony Bennett, Kevin Bacon, Conan O'Brien, LL Cool J, Pauly Shore, Fred Rosen, Jody Uttal, Brad Krevoy and studio execs Jonathan Dolgen, Sherry Lansing and Rob Friedman.

The Entry: Guests traversed a 100-yard red carpet past a rock concert-style stage where Porno for Pyros and the White Zombies performed. As the guests walked by, Stern fans screamed such witticisms as: "Get a toupee!" "Who are you!? Who are you!?" and, special for Tom Arnold, "Roseanne! Roseanne!"

The Buzz: Fan reaction was predictably slavering, but even the less Stern-loving found the film, as one woman said, "oddly endearing."

Quoted: "They say Howard's fans are lower than pond scum. They say we just crawled out of the creek," said Bruce Strubing, who came up from Philadelphia and had "a couple of beers" before the event. "But we're good people. We're a cross-section of society."

Sternmania Analyzed: "Howard Stern is to talk radio what Larry Flynt is to men's magazines," said an industry exec. "He reaches a core audience who have no voice and then he speaks for them." Another take came from Gilbert Gottfried: "He's the '90s answer to Joan Crawford. Drag queens will be imitating him well into the next century."

The Last Word: "This is insane," Stern said. "You'd have thought I invented the polio vaccine."

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