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Howard Stern will join 'America's Got Talent'

The shock jock will reportedly be paid $10 million to replace judge Piers Morgan.

December 16, 2011|By Scott Collins and Patrick Day, Los Angeles Times
  • Howard Stern will be joining the judges' panel on "America's Got Talent."
Howard Stern will be joining the judges' panel on "America's… (Evan Agostini / Associated…)

Looks like "America's Got Talent" is getting raunchy — Howard Stern will join the judges' table.

The famed shock jock will replace CNN host Piers Morgan, alongside Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne. Shooting will start in February, and the talent contest will return in the summer to NBC's schedule, where it has typically sat atop the ratings.

The producers — including Simon Cowell, who created the series — opened their bank vault to snag Stern, whose profile has dipped since he moved his radio program to satellite. One knowledgeable insider said the radio star would be paid $10 million per season, making him the highest-paid judge on the "AGT" panel. NBC declined to confirm or deny that figure.

In addition, production will move from Los Angeles to New York to accommodate Stern's radio schedule on SiriusXM.

In an interview earlier this week with The Times, Cowell said hiring Stern was part of a plan to remake "AGT" with more appeal for young viewers.

Speculation about Stern joining the show has been rampant for more than a month, ever since Morgan announced he was leaving to concentrate on his CNN gig. But Thursday morning, the shock jock made it official.

Stern discussed the new gig on his satellite radio show, revealing that he would begin shooting in February and would travel the country for the audition portion of the talent competition.

How Stern's famously outspoken demeanor will fare in his return to broadcast remains to be seen. When his radio program was a hit for local stations, the host was frequently in hot water with the Federal Communications Commission for violating broadcast decency standards — which became a selling point for his act.

The Stern announcement had barely been made Thursday morning when the Parents Television Council attacked NBC for its "desperation" and called Stern "a performer who is synonymous with shock, profanity and obscenity." NBC said Stern was not available to comment.

Stern's colleagues are already getting a taste of his bravado. On Monday, he invited Osbourne to his radio show and promptly took her to task for what he said was her tendency to overly praise gay contestants on "America's Got Talent."

"To like someone because they're gay is ridiculous," Stern told Osbourne.

He went on to tell her that changes would come with his arrival: "You and Howie will learn how to behave. And we'll structure that show differently."

Brad Adgate, an analyst for ad firm Horizon Media, said the move could work out well for both Stern and NBC. "It's a great move for him," he said. "He has been off the radar over the past five-plus years [since] migrating to satellite radio.... I think viewers of the show and his fans will tune in to see what kind of comments he will make now that he is back in the auspices of the FCC."

"America's Got Talent" will return for its seventh season this summer.

scott.collins@latimes.com

patrick.day@latimes.com

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