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KIDS ON FILM

Many Young Fans Embracing Stern 'Parts' and Parcel

March 20, 1997|MARK CHALON SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In "Private Parts," we follow the rise of Howard Stern from a geeky radio jock who has no faith in himself to the crude, rude and funny self-proclaimed "King of All Media." We also get to meet his patient wife, Alison. Rated R.

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Jeff Hunter is just 13, but he's already taken by the Howard Stern mystique.

"He's awesome!" Hunter squealed after seeing "Private Parts" with his dad, Jack. "He's so funny and cool all the time."

Had Jeff, who lives in Lake Forest, honed his appreciation of the self-idolizing Stern by listening to Stern's daily radio talk show?

His father cut in: "No, I won't let him listen to that. It's too much for him."

Meaning that Stern's FCC-baiting gab about lesbians, body parts and whatever else tickles his libido or fancy isn't suitable for kids.

But the movie about his life is?

"Sure, it's actually fairly tame," Jack Hunter said. "There's nudity, but it's really kind of a love story. I wasn't nervous bringing him in."

And what did Jeff like best about the movie? He gave Dad a sideways glance, then confessed: "This [nude] girl gave [Stern] a massage while everybody [including a worried program manager] just lost it."

Though the movie is pretty raw--lots of breasts and four-letter words--Jack Hunter defended it as being "reality based."

"My kid knows what's going on in the world; you can't hide everything from him," he said.

Anyway, Jeff seemed to be in the minority, age-wise, at a recent screening. Most of the young guys who showed up were 15 to 17 years old. Many said they'd heard Stern on KLSX-FM (97.1) and caught his E! Channel program every now and then.

Most said they appreciated "Private Parts" because it gave them a clearer picture of how Stern rose to celebrity. A few even commented that they now know what it takes to become a star: incredibly loud self-promotion and the guts not to give up, no matter what.

"His dad called him a jerk [actually, a moron--when he was little], and nobody wanted his show," explained Aaron Turman, 16, of Mission Viejo. "But he kept pushing at it."

A key scene for Aaron came when Stern refuses to be bullied by his boss at a New York radio station. Instead of collapsing under the pressure, Stern outwits the scuzzball at every turn.

When ordered to avoid all four-letter words on the air, Stern stages a game show where contestants fill in the blanks to "(blank)willow" and "(blank)-a-doodle-do." The station manager goes atomic, but Stern wins in the end.

"He was smarter than everybody else," Aaron said. "Being smarter can get you way ahead."

That also came through for Aaron's friend Randy Lindquist, 15 and also from Mission Viejo. Stern knew what made people laugh and stuck with it, Randy pointed out.

"I think I know that if you do something good, you should keep doing it," Randy said.

The audience at this screening was primarily young men. Of the few girls in attendance, most had mixed feelings about the movie. Katy Stevens, 15, of Laguna Niguel was typical when she admitted to laughing during several sections but also of being embarrassed by the nudity and language.

"He went too far with some of the stuff," she said. "Like when he had the girl take off all her clothes [and massage him during his show]. I mean, she was just out there!"

Katy did like Stern's wife, Alison (Mary McCormack). She comes across as a loving, suffering, thoughtful woman who shows remarkable resilience as Stern's mate.

"She was too cool to be with him," Katy said.

But the guys thought differently.

"Howard is so cool that a lot of women would want to be with him," Randy said. "There were some [in the movie] who wanted to [have sex] with him, but he didn't because of [Alison]. . . . That's cool, isn't it?"

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