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Stern, Magic to Face Off on Talk Show

Television: The shock jock, who has been criticizing the ex-NBA star turned late-night host, will appear on tonight's show.

July 02, 1998|GREG BRAXTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Earvin "Magic" Johnson will go one-on-one tonight with "shock jock" Howard Stern, one of the harshest critics of the basketball legend's new talk show, "The Magic Hour."

The two will face off on the syndicated late-night series, which has been a target of critics since its June 8 debut. Most of the hour will be devoted to Stern, who not only will talk with Johnson but also will perform with a band composed of members of his radio show staff.

Stern has spent much of the last three weeks on the air blasting Johnson's program, making fun of the host's interview style, his diction and his HIV-positive status, among other things. He characterized the program as one of the worst talk shows he'd ever seen.

Nevertheless, supervising producer Todd Yasui said "The Magic Hour" pursued Stern to appear as a guest and does not expect any confrontations or tensions when the two meet.

"Howard's show is about comedy and entertainment," Yasui said. "So is our show. Why not have fun with this? He pokes fun at famous people all the time."

Yasui added that Johnson has not been hurt or bothered by Stern's personal barbs.

"No one takes what Howard says seriously," Yasui said. "Magic is a public figure. He has heard every type of comment from comedians, political leaders and people on the street. He's a strong guy and he can handle it."

Stern, who also appears on the E! Entertainment Television network and is scheduled to star in a Saturday night show on CBS in August, is known for his outrageous behavior, particularly on talk shows. He once angered "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno when he brought two women on stage with him and ordered them to "make out." He also upset "Late Night" host David Letterman when he wore a shirt featuring a picture of O.J. Simpson.

Meanwhile, "The Magic Hour" has no plans to replace comedian Craig Shoemaker, who was kicked off the show Tuesday following publication of a newspaper article in which he spoke out about his diminishing role on the program. Shoemaker had started out as Johnson's sidekick but was bumped from that duty after producers decided he had no chemistry with the former basketball star.

* "The Magic Hour" airs weeknights at 11 on KTTV-TV Channel 11.

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