The Ultimate Howard Stern Project List
1982 - Present
This is the ultimate list of all projects Howard has announced he was working on during his radio show including movies, albums, books, television shows both broadcast and direct to video, and a historic run for governor of New York State. Some projects were completed, others mysteriously disappeared months after being announced. There were roughly 70 different projects outside his daily radio/satellite show that he either mentioned in passing or made a major on the air announcement that he was doing. A little more than half ever saw the light of day. This is a list of all those projects starting with 1982's "50 Ways To Rank Your Mother" album and ending with Porky's, the Channel 9 Show on DVD and other long delayed projects he says he is still working on. Projects that never happened are marked as ABANDONED PROJECT and are listed during the year they would have been released. This includes movies that he was asked to appear in and were released without him in the cast. I have not included books that Howard wrote foreword for as they are not actually his projects. Howard can be found in "Jackie "The Joke Man" Martling's Disgustingly Dirty Joke Book" with a 9 page foreword and "Artie Lange: Too Fat to Fish" with a 10 page foreword ( although padded out with pictures ). Apparently if you sit in the Jackie seat you are entitled to an obligatory foreword from Howard. For those completists who want everything that Howard ever wrote in their collection there was also the liner notes on the back of Leslie West's 1988 album "Leslie, Jack & Joe Theme". Side projects by Robin Quivers, Fred Norris, and other staff members, regulars, and Wack Pack members are also not included in this list. Nor have I included pre-radio projects like his one time garage band Electric Comic Book
PART I: 1982-1989
RECORD: Howeird Stern - 50 Ways To Rank Your Mother
While working at DC-101 Howard came up with the idea of recording a comedy album using his radio bits. It is very possible the idea came from his early days of radio when he played skits from various National Lampoon comedy albums on the air, specifically "The White Album" which is where Howard found the Fartman skit. The National Lampoon albums were in turn re-recorded skits originally written for their weekly radio show. Another influence was the Cheech & Chong albums where the duo took routines originally written for their stage shows and expanded them with sound effects. Howard saw his album as a way to present his radio bits uncensored and very likely as a way to make extra money from the same material he was giving DC-101 for practically minimum wage. He signed with Wren, an independent record label, and used the advance to book the New York City recording studio called The Ranch. The timing could not be worse. Howard had just been offered a job at WNBC in New York City and the flagship station of what was left of the NBC radio network. With a few months still left on his DC-101 contract Stern signed to be NBC's new afternoon man. Soon after management at DC-101 found out and fired him. They also notified Howard that any material he had written or performed on the air was the intellectual property of DC-101 and they would not be allowing him to use the material on his album. Suddenly Howard found himself legally obligated to record a studio album for Wren, a recording studio already booked in NYC to be used in the next few days, but with no usable material and once done with no station to promote the album on.
Both Fred and Howard rushed together new material for the album. Think Tank member Harry Cole claimed prior copyrights to the parody "50 Ways to Rank Your Mother" and allowed the song on the album, otherwise the rest was material never heard on his radio show. The album was recorded and Stern was invited as a guest on a rival DC radio station so he could say goodbye to his fans. It was during this show that Howard was able to plug the album. ( Howard was always grateful that his competition had allow him the opportunity to say goodbye to his listeners and years later whenever a local DJ was fired Howard would usually invite them on the air to do the same. ) Thanks to the plug the album sold well, beating out The Rolling Stones "Still Life" for #1 album on the local DC charts the week both were released. But sales quickly dropped off once all of Stern's fans bough the album and when it came time to be paid Wren claimed that they actually lost money on the album and had only sold half of the first printing. A few month later Howard began his NBC show and in a years time once again had strong ratings. Wren contacted Howard again and reminding him that he still had a warehouse full of unsold records convinced him to hawk the album on the air for the New York market. Once again the album sold extremely well, although Wren never gave an accounting as to how many. They claimed once again that the album did not sell enough to make a profit and once again Howard was not paid. Suspecting a scam Howard disassociated himself with the album and after telling his listeners not to bother buying it that the material on it was sub par he never mentioned it again. And compared to the material written for his radio show it was sub par, but that is what is expected when you write 40 minutes of new untested material during a one day cram session. Although Wren owned the rights to the album and could not be prevented from continuing to distribute it, they decided that there was no reason for further pressings as long as Howard was no longer mentioning it on the air.
50 Ways to Rank Your Mother
Unclean Beaver Part I
I Shot Ron Reagan
Barry Off-White's Owed to Howit>
Unclean Beaver Part II
Nail Young's Cat
BONUS : In addition the album came with a free poster which was supposed to only be available in the first printing. The poster was the album cover blown up.
MAGAZINE: Car Buyers Market Magazine
One of the sponsors at NBC was a monthly free magazine called Car Buyer's Market that was nothing more than wall to wall adds for used cars. One day Howard was on the air talking to the magazine's publisher on the phone during a live commercial and agreed to write a monthly article for the publication. This mushroomed into Howard getting editorial control of the magazine and turning it into his version of MAD with Fred and perhaps Robin contributing material. For a few days Howard was enthusiastic about doing it, then when reality set in that he was going to write for free for a magazine that was given away in grocery stores he stopped mentioning anything about it.
LIVE EVENT: Howard Stern Live On Stage
A stage show performed in clubs that consisted mainly of song parodies and magic tricks. Howard has claimed that the reason for these shows was that he needed a source of income after he was fired by NBC. But he had also claimed that his contract with NBC required them to continue paying him and Robin for the duration of the period of the contract as long as they were unemployed by any other radio station. Both Gary and Fred were not fired by NBC and continued to do an afternoon radio show with Al Rosenburg informally called "The Fred, Al, and Garry Show". The only Stern Show regular without a paycheck was Shadow Traffic N-copter girl Donna Fiducia who was inexplicably fired along with Howard and Robin despite not actually being a cast member of their show. Donna was not part of the stage show. Howard still continued touring the live show after he started working at WXRK which he claims was due to pre-existing obligations. Soon after Howard, Fred, and Robin stopped performing in club shows. Other show regulars continue with various live shows.
MOVIE: Ryder P.I.
The one and only movie released by the film studio Long Island Entertainment "Ryder P.I." was a low budget comedy featuring many local New York comedians. In 1985 a naïve Howard Stern accepted the role of a television news caster with the attitude that a movie role was a movie role, and now he could boast to his listeners that he was going to be in a movie. The boasting ended as soon as he returned from the set. When Robin finally got him to talk about his experience filming "Ryder P.I." he said that he did not think it was an actual movie and his scene was shot on videotape. By the time the movie was distributed to it's one theater in New York Howard was no longer talking about it. The movie finally got wide distribution in the 90's on video basically because Howard was in it. The movie also featured the voice of Jackie Martling.
RECORD: Blue Öyster Cult - Club Ninja
One day on the air Howard announced that he just found out that his cousin was in the group Blue Öyster Cult and he would be invited to sing on their next album. It turned out that Eric Bloom was not Howard's cousin but was married to one of his distant cousins. Howard's contribution to the album was not a song but the recital of a four line verse opening the song "When the Warrior Comes Home":
when the bones of our oppressors have turned to dust;
And the cause that we serve rules the world.
In a vision, visitation,
all hail the revolution!
RECORD: On The Road
After joking on the air about records made by other morning DJs Howard claimed that if Fred wrote a good rock anthem for him to record then it would be a hit. A few days later Fred turned in a song called "On The Road"
Whooo ooh, whooo wooo oooh
Whoo hoooh, whoohoo
Whooo ooh, whoo wooo oooh
Whoo hoooh, whoo,hoo
You can't run, you cant hide
You got your love deep inside
Break your will, break my back
I'm gonna take you there in my Cadillac
I'm on the road
[ chorus ]
Whooo oooh, whooo wooo oooh
Whoo Hoooh, I'm on the road
Leather boots up to the thigh
Got the kind of face that makes a grown man cry
Liquid hips, luscious lips
Shivers up and down my spine with my fingertips
Oh no, I'm on the Road
[ repeat chorus ]
I know the secret deep in your soul
Don't ask your sister she's out of control
Don't' say a word, don't make a sound
Until we get to the edge of town
[ repeat chorus 5X ]
Good God you are so young
A fine young thing
Question, do you shave that thang?
Oh my God you fine young thang
Give it to me, now give it to me
Don't do drugs, ohh
Look how sweet you are
Can't believe your fallin' for me
Your'e on the road
Going into a studio Howard recorded a demo track produced by Dee Snider and featuring Leslie West on lead guitar. The demo track was good enough to release as a single. Howard claimed he had offers from a few record labels and for nearly a year the song was his anthem. But perhaps remembering what had happened with Wren Records Howard never found a recording contract he wanted to sign. They all asked for full publishing rights to the song and/or would not pay Howard or the other performers unless the single sold a certain amount of copies. many insisted on an entire album. While Howard waited for his manager to negotiate a good contract Howard began to have second thoughts and decided not to release the single. Howard played the song often on his show, but the studio version never completely aired. The few times he played it during the middle of the show he would keep stopping it and making comments. He would play it often at the end of the show but Meg Griffin, the DJ who followed him, would regularly dump out of the 8 second delay during the song and usually cut it short. I remember trying to tape a copy of the song every day and this was the most complete version to air on K-ROCK. It was mentioned often that On The Road was put into rotation the rest of the day on K-Rock but I was a regular listener and never heard it once outside Howard's show. The only time the song aired completely on WXRK was a live version during the live New Years Eve broadcast at the Felt Forum.
MUSIC VIDEO: "Lets Go Mets" and making of documentary.
In 1986 the Mets were projected to be in the playoffs and possibly winning the World series. Earlier that year the Chicago Bears had put out a rap video and single "The Super Bowl Shuffle" so members of the Mets decided to do the same recording their own Rap song. This was done without the permission of Major League Baseball or the Mets organization. When the unauthorized Rap single started making money it was decided to release an official Mets single. Early on the decision was made that none of the Mets were talented enough to sing on the single so instead professionals studio vocalists were hired to sing the team's new theme song "Lets Go Mets". Local celebrities were encouraged to appear in the video. Some had major parts but most like Howard simply sang the words "Lets Go Mets Go!" and were shown at the end of the video in a montague where they were all on baseball cards. Howard ended up at the end of the video with other local DJs including Soupy Sales and Scott Shannon, both who he was feuding with at the time. The only reason why Howard agreed to be part of the video was to be in the making of documentary. But so many celebrities ended up agreeing to be in the video that Howard's interview was not used. The documentary and music video ended up being sold on home video. Later that year when the Mets began to falter in the playoffs Howard sang a song parody of their theme song called "Hey Schmucks You Suck" which he played every time they lost a game. He had a second song parody praising the Mets whenever they won which had the exact opposite lyrics.
RADIO SHOW: The National Howard Stern Show
Howard's regular radio show was already syndicated into Philadelphia and he was begging Infinity to syndicate it to other stations around the nation. Infinity was still resistant to the idea and wanted to syndicate his show in baby steps. ABC offered him a deal for a radio show that would be syndicated nationally. The only problem was that it would not be his morning show. The syndicated show was a 2 hour weekly show taped in front of a live audience. Unlike the daily show, the syndicated show played music. Most of the show was Howard interviewing guests for about four minutes followed by a top 40 single followed by two more minuets of an interview before the commercial break, then the whole thing repeated after the commercial break. And while the syndicated show brought in guests who Howard could not get on his daily show, the questions he asked were a lot tamer than those he would ask on the daily show. While most of the syndicated show was forgettable it managed to have one classic radio bit. The guest was Elton John and he was asked to sing a song parody called "Why Isn't Howard Stern On T.V.?" which has aired during best of shows ever since. Despite the lame format the syndicated show [ which aired on WXRK in New York City on Saturday mornings ] it still managed to get good ratings. The reason why it was eventually cancelled was that ABC was unable to find national advertisers. Even toned down Howard Stern was still too controversial.
MOVIE: 9½ Weeks
Howard announced on the air that Adrian Lyne wanted to use recordings of him and Robin doing his radio show in his movie "9½ weeks" MGM was worried that 9½ Weeks would get an 'X' rating. This was three years before the creation of 'NC-17' so all movies with adult themes or excessive violence got the same rating as pornographic movies, and by the 1980s most movie theaters refused to screen 'X' rated films. Drastic cuts were made to the movie to bring it down to a movie that would get an 'R' rating. Reportedly one of the cuts was the removal of Howard's radio show from the soundtrack. Adrian Lyne has said he wants to release a directors cut of 9½ Weeks some day, but there is no word if it would include Howard on the soundtrack. Lyne has also directed two other controversial movies, "Indecent Proposal" and "Lolita" which ultimately was so controversial it could not get an American distributor. His best known films are "Flashdance" and "Fatal Attraction".
LIVE EVENT: New Years Live At The Felt Forum
On New Years Eve 1986 Howard performed in a concert that would count down at Midnight to 1987. Joining him was the rest of his morning show crew along with the band Pig Vomit featuring Leslie West and Dee Snider and most of the Wack Pack. The new year countdown and part of the concert would be broadcast live over the radio. After the midnight countdown and following concert the radio simulcast ended and Howard and his guests judged a beauty pageant. Unfortunately no video was made of the concert. The idea was revived ten years later for "New Years Rotten Eve"
In 1986 Howard announced on the air that producers had just sent him a script for a movie called "Robocop" and wanted him to play one of the characters. But Howard said the script was dumb and he did not take the part. Perhaps he had an earlier draft of the script that was sub-par, because when Robocop eventually did come out Howard loved the movie. Howard has mentioned many times that he was offered parts that he turned down. This was one of the rare times he had mentioned one of the films on the air.
TELEVISION: Live From The Porcelain Palace
Howard announced on the air that he was finally going to get his own television show but would not say what it was going to be about because the set was "revolutionary" and he did not want to spoil the surprise until the show aired. The show would have a live audience and Howard gave tickets out to many lucky listeners on the air. There was a buildup on the air the week the show was suppose to tape, then suddenly Howard stopped talking about it. A couple of years later one of the listeners finally asked Howard what happened to the show. Howard mentioned that the producer had died and the show was cancelled. Years later Howard identified the name of the show as "Live From The Porcelain Palace" and said the premise was that he would be conducting interviews from a men's room stall. Howard claimed that as the time grew closer to taping the show he began to have regrets because he realized the premise of the show could look really dumb, but was not going to back out of the deal because he believed in upholding the contract. This was not the first or last time Howard promoted one of his projects as revolutionary or great even though behind the scenes he felt the project was sub-par. He had hyped "50 Ways To Rank Your Mother" both in Washington and in New York City even though he would later admit the album was not funny and would later promote the first draft of the Private Parts script when it looked like the studio was going to film that version.
TELEVISION: The Howard Stern Show ( a.k.a. The Fox Show )
Not too long after the Porcelain Palace mysteriously disappeared from discussion on the radio show Howard announced another television project. He would be doing a show for the new Fox network. This time Howard gave out some details on the air about what his first television show would look like. It would be part sketch comedy and part interview show. Robin Quivers would be the co-host and the house band would be lead by Leslie West and Steve Rossi. Also on the show was Gary, Fred, and Jackie along with frequent radio show guests Joe Walsh. Five test episodes were shot that were suppose to air in New York City only on WNEW. If they did well then the actual network shows would be shot with a better budget to be aired on the network itself. The initial idea of hiring Howard Stern to Fox came as a result of the bad ratings that "The Late Show" was getting. Earlier that year Fox had hired regular Tonight Show guest host Joan Rivers and created "The Late Show" for her which aired at the same time as "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" with hopes that Fox wold defeat it in the ratings. Carson was furious that Rivers would go into competition against him and banned her from appearing on "The Tonight Show" ever again. "The Late Show" debuted in the fall of 1987 but failed to draw viewers. Fox planned to fire Joan Rivers and replace her with a new host. Fox was actually looking at many different potential replacement hosts at the time and their New York based executives felt that Howard Stern could draw the viewers that Joan could not. Howard insisted on his own show in that time slot rather than continuing The Late Show, but promised that his show would beat The Tonight Show in the ratings.
For the next couple of months Howard promoted his Fox pilots and gave frequent updates and behind the scene stories as each pilot episode was taped. But within a week of the shows scheduled air dates Fox executives gave an order that the show was cancelled and WNEW would not be given clearance to air the pilots. While the official reason for the shows sudden cancellation was that the five pilots Howard had delivered to Fox were so bad they were unairable, on viewing of bootlegs of the pilots reveal that they were of the same quality of his later Channel 9 shows, all of which did very well in the ratings both locally and in syndication. One possible reason given for the sudden dumping of Stern was that temporary replacement host Arsenio Hall began to get ratings and Fox wanted to sign him as permanent host. Hall had just been offered a syndication deal with Paramount for his own talk show and Fox decided a bit too late they wanted to keep him as host of "The Late Show". Arsenio knew all along that Stern was slated to replace him after his 13 episode contract ran out and decided that while the Paramount deal meant syndication it was at least guaranteed. He had all but made up his mind to sign with Paramount when Fox executives tried to change his mind, and in an act of proving their commitment publicly fired Howard. This did not work. Arsenio signed with Paramount and his syndicated talk show did what "The Late Show" could not, it took away half of Johnny's audience and eventually lead to NBC pushing Johnny into retirement. Another possible reason was that other Fox executives were developing a different show for the same time slot called "The Wilton North Report" which was the official reason why Arsinio was not offered an extension beyond his 13 week deal until it was too late. Executives who backed Wilton North did not like that Stern was suddenly being brought in to take the time slot and fought behind the scenes to have his show cancelled. "The Wilton North Report" replaced "The Late Show" after Arsenio's deal expired and was cancelled within four weeks.
WNEW wanted to air the pilots regardless as they believed that Howard could have pulled huge ratings in the New York market. But without the networks permission the pilots never aired. Fox had done this to WNEW before that same year when they forced the cancellation of the channels highly rated Saturday afternoon "Drive-In Movie" which featured weekly Kung Fu movies and replacing it with their own movies that did not do as well in the ratings. An unconfirmed story was that years later WNEW begged Fox to allow them to air the shows when they saw the ratings the Channel 9 shows were pulling in. Howard had put a lot of work into those shows and did not take the cancellation well. He began to accuse Rupert Murdoch of killing the show because Cardinal John O'Connor pressured Murdoch into doing so. In the years to follow Howard would re-define this theory claiming that Murdoch did not know his executives had hired him until the Cardinal had told him and immediately had not only Howard fired but the executives responsible for hiring him. The problem with this theory is that there was no way Murdoch could have missed the news reports that Howard was doing a show for Fox more than a month prior to the taping of the pilots. And for someone so opposed to Howard on religious grounds why would his FX network be the only one to air a television show produced by Howard Stern Productions [ "Son of the Beach"]? And lets not forget it was Murdoch who bought the legitimate British newspaper "The Sun", converted it into a tabloid, and began publishing pictures of topless girls on it's third page to increase circulation, this back in the early 70's and still continues as a weekly feature to this day. Others speculated that with Murdoch on thin ice with the FCC for owning both television stations and newspapers in the same markets that he could not afford the controversy that a Howard Stern show would bring, even if the shows that aired were clean by broadcast standards. When news broke of Howard filming the pilots for Fox the network was besieged by complaint mail from media watchdog groups promising that if any shows with Stern aired they would complain to the FCC and would boycott any network sponsor.
But according to one Fox insider the real reason for the show's cancellation was due to friction between Stern and Fox executives that surfaced while the pilots were being taped. Howard had begun to complain that a Superman sketch had to be pulled because the Fox crew could not pull off the special effect that would have made him look like he was flying. A week later Howard recognized one of his set pieces being used on another Fox show, "A Current Affair" and once again began blasting Fox executives on the air. Howard felt that the sets to his show should be kept a secret until the day his shows aired. The set in question was for a game show parody and apparently the same game show parody was done on A Current Affair weeks before the same sketch was to air on Howard's test pilot show. The Fox executive who allowed this to happen did so because the test shows were running over budget and the only way to justify new sets was if they were to be used on other Fox shows. Howard was not aware of this and blasted the executives who made that decision. Behind the scenes both Murdoch and other Fox executives began to worry that if Stern was such a loose cannon when it came to the test shows that he would be impossible to handle once he was on the network. So as a preemptive act they decided not to air the test shows and fired Howard. A decade later Murdoch would work with Howard again for "Son Of The Beach"
After cancelling Howard's show before the test episodes even aired, Fox made the mistake of inviting him on their two live shows as a guest, one "The Late Show" with Arsenio Hall. Pretty much the first thing out of Howard's mouth was that Rupert Murdoch was responsible for Edgar Rosenberg's death. Rosenberg was Joan Rivers husband and also the producer of "The Late Show" when Joan was the host. When he and Joan were fired he blamed himself for the shows low ratings and had committed suicide a few months later. Howard had other unpleasant things to say about Rupert Murdoch and the Fox network. During the commercial break security walked onto the late Shows set and escorted Howard off Fox property. Not too long later producers for Good Day New York arranged to do a live broadcast from Howard's radio studio. Howard immediately began to once again badmouth Rupert Murdoch before the show cut away from the studio claiming they had technical problems. For the next half hour whenever they went back to Howard's studio they claimed they had no audio and instead played bouncy pop tunes over the soundtrack. This did not deter Howard who held up a sign once again accusing Murdoch of killing Rosenberg. Howard finally threw the Good Day New York crew out of his studio and amazingly their audio problem was fixed two seconds later.
BOOK: The Howard Stern Cook Book
Howard announced on the air that he had taken an advance from a publisher to write a cook book. No cook book was ever published and Howard never mentioned it again. It is not known if Howard was joking when he said he was writing the book, if he did write the book and it got rejected by the publisher, or like many of his projects he quickly lost interest and decided it was not worth the trouble.
TELEVISION: Howard Stern's Negligee And Underpants Party Pay-Per-View Special
On the air Howard announced that he was finally getting his own television show. It would be on cable on a new service called "paper view". Actually the new technology was called pay-per-view. Back in 1988 if you wanted to watch a pay-per-view special you would have to go to your cable company's main office and rent a separate box that you would then have a technician attach to the back of your set for decoding the scrambled pay-per-view signal. Some companies like Time-Warner were just beginning to invest in cable boxes that decoded all premium and pay-per-view channels without having to rent a separate box, but that technology would still be a couple of years away. The other problem was that many cable companies did not yet offer pay-per-view services, the ones that did offer the service did not have to offer Stern's show, and your area had to have Cable in the first place. This meant that most of Howard's listeners would not be able to see the show, although many callers claimed that they were going to drive out of town and rent a hotel room with cable to see the event. The show was eventually called the "Negligee and Underpants Party" as everyone appearing on the show was expected to show up half dressed. The live show ran into one major problem, it started running overtime. and they were unable to get to the taped segment of Gary getting his teeth capped. Although not widely available to all his listeners it became the all time money making pay-per-view event of its time. But since Howard had to make separate deals with every cable company involved and most wanted most of the profits and because there had already been a lot of money spent renting a television studio, building sets, paying guests, hiring a crew, and filming and producing insert video segments, and other production costs the pay-per-view special ended up losing money.
HOME VIDEO: Howard Stern's Negligee And Underpants Party
To recoup money lost on the Pay-Per-View special and to give listeners without access to pay-per-view the opportunity to see them Howard announced that he would be selling the special on videotape. There are many people who think this was planned all along and that running out of time before he was able to show the much publicised "Gary gets his teeth capped" video segment was done deliberately so that the tape would have content that was not shown during the special. However the fact that they were unable to get guests Dweezle and Moon Unit Zappa to sign a release to allow their segments to be used on the tape, nor had kept the home phone numbers of the participants of the Dial-a-Date segment so they could get their releases, is evidence that the home video was a last second idea. With edits made to segments where they were unable to get releases from guests or callers, what was once a two hour show was an hour forty five minutes on home video. As an incentive to buy the tape Howard included backstage video with voice over comments, the missing Gary teeth segment, and a replay of the segment with audio commentary by Howard where Vinnie Mazzeo Jr. lights his underwear on fire and cooks an egg. Bonus footage was unusual on video tapes at that time which was a plus. The negative was the company that manufactured and distributed the tape [ credited to Weirdo inc. but would be credited to Twelve One on all the other releases. ]. They insisted on selling it by mail order giving it a steep $4 [ for its time ] mailing and handling charge. There was also the problem of how the mail order services Howard used for all his video tapes mailed them out arbitrarily. Many people who ordered the tape on the first day Howard announced he was selling it did not get it in the mail until weeks after people who had ordered it weeks later. The first listeners who got the tape in the mail called in to the show, some saying they had only ordered it a few days earlier. Predictably many other angry listeners called in to say they had ordered it on day one and it had not arrived yet. One bigger problem was the quality of the video tapes themselves. Many were not even taped in hi-fi and some had such low quality audio that you had to turn your television's volume up all the way to hear it. This was evidence that whoever was making copies of the video was using inferior machines quite possibly a chain of old home VHS machines. The tape quality was poor as well. While by that time videos for home and rental were taped on brand new Scotch or Maxell, Weirdo/Twelve One taped on used videos. [ I had a friend who fast forwarded his copy of "Open Sores" and you could see the tail end of the porno film that was taped over. ] Repeatedly Twelve One assured Howard that these problems would be fixed, but they persisted through the entire run of videos Howard sold. Another fan complaint was that Howard insisted the tapes would never be sold in stores, yet a few months later the overstock was sold to the record store chain Square Circle. He announced he would be appearing at the Square Circle store at Roosevelt Field to sign tapes, but only tapes that were sold at that store and not those bought through mail order. Most likely this was not Howard's idea but that of Weirdo/Twelve One who were the ones selling the tape.
BONUS: Just as he did with "50 Ways to Rank Your Mother" Howard decided he wanted to include a free poster with the tape. But there is a limit to what can fit inside a standard cardboard VHS box and the free poster was only about 7" x 19½" when unfolded.
On his radio show Howard kept making cryptic references to a mysterious "Project X", something he was not allowed to mention on the air but all his listeners would be interested in. If you wanted to find out what Project X was then you would have to tune in to your local late night television channels where a commercial for the mystery project would randomly air. The commercial was for 1-970-STERN [ 1-971-STERN if calling from Philadelphia or D.C. ] These were very expensive pay telephone numbers that charged a heavy toll rate to the person who dialed them. The first to use the toll numbers [ and still do ] were the sex lines where originally you would call up for a dirty message from what you hoped was the same girl you saw in the commercial. This was followed by telephone psychics and sports lines. Howard's initial interest in starting his own pay line was not financial but the idea that the FCC was not allowed to regulate content that was paid for. The original idea was to take clips from the show where Howard had to hit the dump button for language and play them unedited on the phone line. But the executives at Infinity had their reasons why they were against being associated with a 1-900 number and neither let Howard use any WXRK material nor promote the number on the air. Instead the phone line had daily dirty messages from Howard and other show regulars and had a feature where callers could leave their own message and even listen back to messages left by other callers. But since Howard could not promote the number during his radio show very few listeners knew the number existed and very few called. Although the television commercials were airing they were doing so in the very late hours. Howard's listeners were usually asleep by the time the commercials aired as they all needed to get up by 6:00am to listen to Howard's radio show. The final straw came during Howard's appearance on "Late Night with David Letterman" to promote the phone line. Censors bleeped out the phone number every time Howard or Dave mentioned it. The real owners of the phone line decided to pull the plug and Project X became an obscure forgotten footnote in Howard Stern's history.
LIVE EVENT: U.S. Open Sores Live Event
On the air Gary claimed that he was a better tennis player that Howard and was challenged to a game to prove it. Howard said they should lease out an arena so that listeners could watch the match as well. Promoter Ron Delesner called in and said he could get the Nassau Coliseum if Howard was really interested in having a tennis match there on Saturday October 7th at 8:00pm. Robin said that she could also have a tennis match against her nemesis the Wackpacker Darren the Foot Licker. Other celebrities and show regulars called in and said they could be there to perform. Howard suggested they call the match the "U..S. Open Sores". All of this within an hour after which the tickets were ready to go on sale. Very suspicious. Many listeners suspected that the match had been planned, the guests arranged, and the arena booked weeks earlier and that the fight about who was the better tennis player between Gary and Howard and everything else was staged. the entire 16,000 tickets for the event sold out in one day, although it is suspected the majority were snatched up by ticket brokers as on the night of the event there were many empty seats. On the morning of the match Howard came down with a fever of 103° and nearly cancelled the event but recovered somewhat by mid day. The event itself would be a best of three match between Robin and Darren with Robin promising to allow Darren to lick her feet should she lose. This would be followed by a best of seven match between Howard and Gary, followed by a dirty version of their radio show with a hypnotism demonstration by Dr. King, fire stunts with Vinnie Mazzeo Jr., and Sam Kinnison backed by Leslie West and Pig Vomit singing "Wild Thing".
In the match between Robin and Darren, Darren dominated the first game where robin did not score once
The second game opened with a nervous Robin serving the ball into the audience. But as the match progressed it was obvious that Darren had worn himself out gibing Robin the advantage she needed to win.
Robin began to dominate the third game but Darren finding his second wind came back from behind nearly tying the score
Game and match Robin
Next was the main event, the best of seven match between Howard and Gary. The first game Gary pulled a stunner dominating in the beginning. And while Howard began to come from behind Gary ultimately won the first game.
Howard would then go on to win the next two games
Gary was awarded the next game, but the next day while reviewing the tape of the event it was discovered that line judge Elephant Boy had made a mistake during the scoring and had awarded a point meant for Howard to Gary. The match never actually ended.
Called 0-30 Gary but should have been 15-15
Called 0-40 Gary but should have been 15-30 Gary
Called 15-40 but should have been 30-30
Called Game Gary but should have been 30-40 Gary
This would lead to controversy for weeks to come as Howard claimed the miss call had hurt his momentum and possibly cost him the match preventing a seventh game. But that is what you get when your criteria for hiring a line judge is not experience but that you think he will sound funny. Gary would go on to win the next two games and take the match.
Howard then complained when he found out that there would not be a seventh game. But with Gary being credited with winning four games out of a best of seven the seventh game would be moot. Even if Howard had won the seventh game he would have been down 3 to 4. A very pissed Howard sat down in his seat cursing out Gary and then poor old Al Lewis before he finally calmed down. No one on the stern show learned from this experience and continued to use unqualified referees and judges for their sports matches and game shows almost always leading to blown calls, bad decisions, and controversy for those claiming victory.
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Because only 16,000 of his listeners could see the match Howard announced that he would be releasing it on video. Once again it was another mail order product and once again there were problems with mailing out the videos to all the customers on time and tape quality. According to some cable operators the tennis match was originally being offered as a live event pay-per-view, but although his first pay-per-view special had been the all time most viewed up to that date he was unable to interest enough cable providers to carry a tennis match. It is believed the genesis of the tennis match idea began a year earlier when Howard learned he would not be making any money from his record breaking "....Negligee and Underpants Party" pay-per-view. Asked why he was told that since they had to make deals with every separate cable company, each insisted on more than a 50% cut in the profits. What money Howard did get was eaten up by production costs. When asked how the WWF's "Wrestlemania" was making money he was told that the production of their matches were paid for by ticket sales. Had Howard staged a live event in an arena with a paying crowd then the production costs would have been taken care of and whatever he made from the pay-per-view would have been pure profit. Since the only sport that he and Robin were involved with at the time was tennis it was decided to cook up a grudge match on the air to be later sold as the pay-per-view event. This was not that different then how fake grudge matches were manufactured during the WWF's NBC show "Main Event" that had to be settled by a special match which ended up as the first "Wrestlemania". But there is a difference between selling a well publicized championship wrestling match to pay-per-view and a tennis match between Howard and Gary and too many cable companies took a pass on the idea. Whether or not the pay-per-view story is true Howard did owe Infinity a video tape. "....Negligee and Underpants Party" was the first in a five tape deal which was meant to be releases of his pay-per-view specials. Now with no 1989 pay-per-view special planned Howard decided to record the special anyway. A documentary crew shot behind the scenes footage including interviews with participants and guests creating a 105 minute program. Once again Howard sold the tape through 1-800-52-STERN saying that it would never be sold in stores and once again the overstock was sold to a record chain store. Patient listeners who waited were able to buy the tape from The Wiz at $15.
This was only the beginning. Howard would be involved in many other projects in the years to come including more mail order videos, a quick campaign for Governor, and some television shows that actually aired on television. And then there was one of the all time best selling books. All that can be found in part 2 of this article.
- The Ultimate Howard Stern Project List
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