The Ultimate Howard Stern Project List
The Ultimate Howard Stern Project List Part 3
Continuing the list of projects that Howard Stern worked on outside of his regular radio show. These are the years between 1995 and 1999
BOOK: Miss America
Howard's second book Miss America was just as successful as Private Parts. The only problems this time was a threatened lawsuit by the organizers of the Miss America pageant for using their copyrighted name without their permission. Howard had wanted to call the book something else but the publisher had turned down many other proposed titles including Mein Kampf and Getting Away With Murder.
The book tour for Miss America was just as mobbed as the first. The pre-publicity began with Howard distributing danglers to the homeless. The danglers were originally printed to be distributed to taxi cabs and hung on the front mirror where usually the Christmas tree air fresheners hung. It was only after the danglers were printed that the Taxicab Commission informed Harper/Collins that they would not be allowing drivers to hang the distracting advertisements in their cabs. Now stuck with hundreds of unusable danglers Howard was given them to distribute to his listeners. He came up with the idea of giving them in batches to the homeless who could then sell them on the street to listeners looking for collectors items. Howard claimed that they would be valuable, and today the average asking price for what was basically a one cent strip of paper is upwards of $80. Not all the men who received the danglers were homeless. Most of the homeless did not have radios and did not know of the giveaway. Most of the ones who did show up had been hired to do so by collectors looking to resell them at a profit. A few collectors shops sent down employees in ripped clothing who impersonated the homeless and then took stacks of the danglers back to their comic book shop to sell. The homeless men who did get danglers found plenty of Howard's fans who wanted to buy the paper strip, although they often sold them for very little money.
Another memorable moment on promotional tour happened on the Jay Leno show when Howard brought out two lesbians and had them kiss in front of Jay. Then during an interview with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert Howard had the girls make out in his lap while he spanked them. At the commercial break an angry Jay Leno yelled at Howard and stormed off the set demanding they producer rewind the tape and they redo the show without Howard. Eventually Jay calmed down long enough to shoot the closing segment and later that night a highly edited version of the show aired with NBC releasing the following statement: "While he is always outrageous , he has previously stayed within acceptable boundaries. Last night NBC and the show felt that he had crossed that boundary. Because of this NBC's Broadcast and Standards Department made some edits that were necessary out of respect for the show's viewers." A week later Howard appeared on Letterman in a dress.
TELEVISION: Miss America Infomercial
Just as he did with his first book Private Parts Howard made a second infomercial for broadcast on E! and this time Howard was in the infomercial. It was a parody of the "Amazing Inventions" infomercials where Howard comes in as a guest of an obnoxious host to promote his book.
BOOK: Miss America Paperback Edition
Once again another paperback book with bonus pages the hardcover did not have. This time it was only 8 pages and of color photos. There would also be three different covers, each exactly the same but with a different color dress and hair color.
MOVIE: Private Parts [ original version ]
Howard announced that he had signed with an independent film company called Rysher to make a movie based on his book Private Parts. A few months later Howard was gloating about the progress of the movie, about how funny the script was, and even mentioned that the director of Rocky was attach to the project. But this was all to mask the fact that behind the scenes the movie was falling apart. Howard would later claim that the original version of Private Parts had a horrible script. As an example he said that in the opening scene he comes home to his kids running around the house and their nanny who is Richard Simmons is trying to clam them down. Since Howard had final script approval in his contract he turned it down. About four or five times the script was sent back for a rewrite and Howard said that each script was worse than the last. After two years Howard decided to pull the plug on the movie and go back to his original Fartman project when Ivan Reitman asked if he could take over as producer. Work began on a different script and the original version was thrown out. It should be noted that the book Private Parts falls into the category of "unfilmable". It is a collection of random essays, some biographical, but others descriptions of his co-workers, his analysis of celebrities and current news stories, his thoughts on regular guests and Wack Pack members, transcripts of popular radio bits, an analysis of some of his hate mail, some cartoons, and a range of other topics. When it comes to books like Private Parts with no real overall narrative any studio filming a version of the book would only really be using sections from the book to create an original script. For example, Isaac Asimov's popular novel "I Robot" is actually nine different short stories about robots. The 2004 movie adaption with Will Smith combined elements from two of those stories for an original robot story that is nothing like the book. The same would happen with Private Parts. The first production team took some parts from the book and came up with their own original script. Now with an entire new production team, a new director, and new writers writing a completely different script based on different elements from the book Howard would be working on a completely different movie. It would be interesting to see the script for this original abandoned version to see if it was as bad as Howard made it out to be.
With work beginning on a different version the release date was pushed back to 1997 and many began to suspect that no Private Parts movie would ever be made. At that point Howard was known for his many projects that had failed including his Fox series and his "The Adventures of Fartman" movie. Howard would later admit one of his biggest flaws was that he loved the thrill of announcing new projects and would make a huge deal about them on his radio show and during appearances on Letterman. At the time most other celebrities did not like to discus future projects until post-production was completed and a firm release date was given. To add fuel to the rumor fire Howard had been saying on the air how well things were going with the movie with the original production team and now suddenly he was saying they had to start from scratch. This was yet another flaw Howard had, where he would continue claim all is well on the air while things were falling apart behind the scenes. Every one of his projects were fantastic and revolutionary while he was involved and only later after the project was finished or abandoned would he admit if it had it's flaws. He spoke favorably of "50 Ways to Rank Your Mother" until he parted ways with Wren records. "Live From the Porcelain Palace" was the greatest television show ever made until he was no longer making it and said how he was glad the shows were never taped. And years later when he was a big enough celebrity that he could have revived "The Adventures of Fartman" he did not do so because he admitted he was not really comfortable in starring in a movie about a farting superhero. However when Fartman was still in pre-production Howard would claim how it would have been the greatest comedy ever. And he began to claim this again on the air while waiting for the new "Private Parts" script to be written as he toyed with the idea of bringing the Fartman script to another studio and possibly filming it as his first movie. This was seen as a sign by many that things were going horribly wrong with the Private Parts movie and it would never actually be made. But to their amazement Reitman quickly came up with a script and against all odds principle filming began to take place in Queens. There would be a film based on Private Parts, but it would have to wait for another year.
MOVIE: Private Parts
The version of "Private Parts" produced by Ivan Reitman was a completely different movie project than what would have been the original Private Parts movie. The original version Rysher wanted to put out was a screwball comedy that portrayed a wacky day in the life of Howard Stern. Reitman thought he could get a much better movie out of a straightforward biopic. Betty Thomas was an unusual choice for Director. Thomas was still remembered as Sgt. Lucy Bates from the television show "Hill Street Blues" and to date had only directed two notable films, "The Brady Bunch" and the made for TV movie "The Late Shift". Not that it really mattered as by then Reitman was in full creative control of the film. A rough cut of the movie was shown to test audiences who gave it the highest marks since "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade". Even so Ivan saw that the movies biggest flaw was that in general women did not like Howard Stern. Ivan decided to make the final edit of the movie basically a chick flick concentrating on the love story between Alison and Howard.
Private Parts was released to theaters March 7 1997 making $14 million and winning #1 at the box office. Disney had released the Tim Allen movie "Jungle to Jungle" the same weekend and claimed that Paramount had cheated by releasing the movie a day early as a preview in cities where Howard Stern's radio show could be heard and then including the preview profits as part of the weekend gross. If you just added the weekend gross [ Friday, Saturday, and Sunday ] then "Jungle to Jungle" would have come in first at the box office. A week later despite "Private Parts" getting rave reviews from critics grossed less than "Jungle to Jungle" which was getting poor reviews. The Tim Allen film would go on to make $18 million more than "Private Parts". Both movies quickly dropped out of the top 10. Since Private Parts had been predicted to gross more than $100 million but barely grossed $41 million it was considered a flop by the media. Howard himself had predicted it would be the all time box office champ [ this would happen a year latter when "Titanic" grossed more than $1 billion ] but the movie did not even make that years top 10. [ in comparison the awful franchise killing "Batman & Robin" came in at #7 grossing over $102 million ]. But as far as Paramount was concerned the movie was a success as it only cost $20 million to make.
Howard himself tried to spin the movie as a success claiming that although it was released by Paramount it had been produced as a low budget movie by the independent studio Rysher, and for an independent movie $41 million was a huge success. But in terms of his listeners the movie far underperformed. At the time Howard had about 10 Million listeners. The average movie ticket then cost $8. That should have meant that if every listener saw the movie once it should have grossed $80 million. And take into account that many of the listeners who went to see Private Parts saw it more than once and that a good portion of the people who did see the movie were not listeners of his radio show [ about a quarter of them lived in areas where the show was not yet syndicated ] and you have an estimated 6 - 9% of Howard's listeners bothering to see the movie. [ somewhere around 90,000 of his 10 million listeners who bought 250,000 tickets, or about 1 out of 4 of the tickets that sold being bought by a Stern fan, many who were seeing the film more than once ]. One possible explanation for this was that Private Parts was being marketed as a story about following your dreams and as a love story between Howard and his then wife Alison. Most of Howard's listeners wanted a raunchy X rated movie and probably did not feel like spending the $8 on a feel good movie. As was later proven when George Bush won a second term in office despite Howard strongly supporting John Kerry, just because Howard asks his listeners to do something does not mean they will all do it.
LIVE EVENT: Private Parts World Premiere
Howard invited hundreds of his listeners to join him at the World Premiere of Private Parts. For the first time ever tickets would be sold for a movie premiere. And there would be a concert!! The premiere was held at the Paramount Theater at Madison Square Gardens [ it was formerly called the Felt Forum and Howard had held a New Years Eve concert there before]. To accommodate as many listeners as possible there would be two screenings, one with the celebrity guests and the other with only Howard and some of the cast members. Lucky listeners were able to land tickets for the celebrity screening. West 31st Street was blocked off for the red carpet viewing area and the concert. Howard lucked out. It was an unusually warm February day and evening, somewhere around the upper 70's. The listeners were not as lucky. In order to get the tickets you had to stand overnight on line at the HMV at 34th Street, or rather halfway down 33rd Street which is where the end of the line was by the day before. That night was one of the coldest of the year with the temperature dropping near the single digits. And then when you got halfway to the ticket counter "Surprise!! All the tickets are sold out!!!" and you had to then go back to 34th Street to buy the tickets from scalpers who somehow got their hands on stacks of them and were selling them for ten times the original price. And if that was not bad enough the police screwed up the concert and viewing area. Instead of only allowing ticket holders in it was first come - first served. So the unlucky ticket holders who did not stake out a spot in the middle of the day, because after all they had tickets to the event, ended up being turned away because the area was already filled. many ticket holders were unable to see the concert while some claimed they were not even able to get near the theater entrance and even with a ticket were unable to see the movie. Supposedly Paramount did eventually give refunds to anyone with an unpunched ticket.
RECORD: Private Parts: The Album
Released a week before the movie the album debuted at #1 on the album chart. It was also the fastest selling soundtrack in history according to Billboard Magazine. I went Platinum a week later. But what is a Stern album without some behind the scene drama? One recording artist who Howard refuses to refer to by name had agreed to submit a song to the album but just before the CD was ready to be pressed changed his mind and revoked the recording. Howard was forced at the last second to find an alternative recording. LL Cool J Submitted a song called "I Make My Own Rules" which he did with Dave Navarro, Chad Smith, and Flea. His record label refused to allow him to use his name on the album so it is blanked out. Much like what was done with the Private Parts paperback books, the soundtrack album was released in multiple covers. Aside from the standard cover there was four limited edition covers. The rarest one featured a nude Howard Stern with his private parts and nipples covered up by the hands of some women standing behind him. It was only made available to radio stations to give away as promotional prizes. One of the albums had a gold certificate that the person who found it could redeem for a solid gold CD. No one ever found it.
Singles From The Private Parts Soundtrack Album
At least three singles that were supposed to be released off the Private Parts soundtrack. So few discs were pressed of Hard Charger that most listeners had to buy import discs. There supposedly exists CD discs for "The Great American Nightmare" and "Tortured Man" but I have never seen them anywhere other than the promo CDs released to radio stations only.
MUSIC VIDEO: Hard Charger
The video was completed and got the word primer treatment from MTV and went into heavy rotation. But as soon as the movie began to fall out of the box office top 10 MTV pulled the video from rotation. It was last confirmed airing on the MTV2 A to Z millennium video marathon in 2000. Howard can be glimpsed in a few brief shots during the video. Many fans speculated that it was not Howard at all but a stand in. The video was made prior to Ivan Reitman's final edit and has lots of what would become deleted scenes from the movie.
Media Blitz To Promote Private Parts
Howard was not just promising the odd Letterman appearance to promote his movie. In the weeks before the movie he would appear all over television and in every magazine. He was not kidding. It helped that his worked for Infinity Radio which had merged with CBS and Viacom, and Viacom in turn owned Paramount who was distributing the movie. So basically every magazine and television show owned by these companies was going to promote the movie. And there was also the teaser trailer that aired during the Super Bowl. Howard made the rounds to all the usual talk shows including The Today Show [ during his own radio show ], The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Show with David Letterman, Larry King Live, Maury Povich, Fox After Breakfast, and Late Night with Conan O'Brian. He also turned up on some unusual shows. On Entertainment Tonight [ which owned by Paramount did frequent features on Private Parts that month ] Howard made a guest appearance to read that days celebrity birthdays. He made a surprise appearance on Wheel of Fortune when the answer to one of the puzzles was "Howard Stern's Private Parts". Another surprise appearance was during Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live where he told Norm McDonald he was only talented cast member and 90% of the show sucked. [ The untalented cast included Molly Shannon, Chris Kattan, Will Ferrell, Jim Breuer, and Darrell Hammond who ten years later Howard would call talented during an interview on his Sirius show ] Howard also traveled overseas to promote his movie in other countries. He screened it at the Cannes Film Festival and appeared on the British television show TFI Friday. And of course he promoted the movie every night on his E! show. Other cast members from Private Parts made the interview rounds. Gary, Fred, and Jackie were interviewed together on an hour long special on E! Robin followed Howard on Letterman as a guest a week later. Robin was the first guest that night and the second guest was Lolita Davidovich who was in the movie "Jungle to Jungle". Davidovich claimed her movie had actually won that weeks box office because "Private Parts" cheated by including the receipts from the previews for the weekend gross.
There were also plenty of "Making of..." specials that aired on pretty much every cable channel. At the time movie studios would release video press kits that included movie clips, behind the scenes footage, and interviews with the cast. Cable channels were allowed to reedit the videos into their own "Making Of.." specials. There was also a syndicated "Making Of Private Parts" special. But the Making Of specials that aired on E! [ Behind The Scenes: Private Parts ], VH1, and MTV had exclusive interviews with Howard and exclusive behind the scenes footage. E! aired live coverage of the premiere and later the after party. Between the live coverage, repeats of the live coverage, and Howard's E! show the whole night on that channel was devoted to the Private Parts premiere. MTV was also heavily into promoting Private Parts. Along with their Making Of special was an original special Howard made for the channel called "Howard Stern's Private Screening" where he ambushed people on the street asking them to step into his limo and watch scenes from his movie then asking them their opinion, and "Howard Stern's Private Parts Private Party" which was a half hour taped delayed live broadcast coverage of the movie premiere and concert. These specials ran constantly on the channel and when MTV actually got back to airing videos one of them was "Hard Charger". But as soon as Private Parts dropped out of the box office top 10 without earning it's predicted $100 million MTV yanked all the specials from airplay along with the Hard Charger video. They did not air again during any of the year end "Best of the Year" programming even though all of the other making of specials did including "The Making of Batman & Robin". MTV even refused to nominate Private Parts for any MTV Movie Awards. Fortunately Blockbuster did not forget Howard and nominated him for "Best New Actor" where he beat nominees Casper Van Dien and Michael Jai White. Instead of reading an acceptance speech he mock raped presenter Heather Locklear.
The media blitz was not confined to television. There were plenty of press conferences and interviews for other radio shows. On the streets a van circled New York City that had a small screening room. Wherever it stopped pedestrians were invited in to watch exclusive clips from the movie. There were also interviews done for newspapers all over the country including New York Times and Daily News. There were also plenty of magazine articles beginning with the Jan/Feb 1997 issue of Movieline followed by the March 6-13th issue of Time Out Magazine, March 7th issue of Entertainment Weekly, March 10th issue of The New Yorker and the same day a small article in Time, March 17 issue of People. Other magazines that featured interviews and/or articles of Howard included the April issues of Playboy, Penthouse, and Esquire. Howard was in Rolling Stone twice in March. The March 20th issue had an interview but a week earlier the March 6th issue came with a fold out Private Parts poster [ the same poster was also available in the 1997 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue]. The March 8th - 14th issue of TV Guide had an article on Howard's transition from television star [ for his E! show ] to movie star. Howard was on the cover of that issue, but only on the issues sold in news stands. Those who had TV Guide subscriptions got Law & Order's Benjamin Bratt. Howard was credited as writing an article for the March issue of Los Angeles magazine but claimed on the radio he had not written the article at all, that he did do an interview for the magazine but very little of it was in the article. The March issue of Vanity Fair had an interview with Howard and his wife Alison while the April issue of Marie Clair had an rare one on one interview with Alison. Outside of the United States Howard appeared in countless other magazines to promote the foreign release of the movie. But the magazine article Howard was most proud of was from issue #359 of Mad Magazine, the parody "Private Putz"
BOOK: Private Parts Movie Tie-In Edition
The paperback edition of Private Parts re-released as a movie tie in. There was nothing new with this edition other than a new cover based on the movie poster. Never the less the book re-entered the New York Times best seller's list so that the same week Howard had the #1 movie in America, the #1 album in America, and the #1 paperback in America.
MUSIC VIDEO: The Great American Nightmare
Howard said that Rob Zombie wants to direct a music video for The Great American Nightmare. But Warner Brother Records gave a low printing to the Hard Charger single and had only released a promo to radio stations of The Great American Nightmare. When Rob and Howard told them they wanted to do a music video the answer was yes provided Howard agreed to air it a few times a week on his E! show. Warner Brothers knew that MTV had pulled the Hard Charger video from rotation and had let them know that they would not be airing any other videos from the soundtrack. VH1 was also uninterested in airing any videos from the soundtrack. Warner Brothers did not see any point spending tens of thousands on a video that would not air anywhere. For some reason Howard did not seem to understand that if he did not air the video on his E! show then it would not have aired anywhere else. He refused to air the video on the E! show and Warner Brothers refused to finance it.
HOME VIDEO: Private Parts
"Private Parts" was initially released on VHS and Laserdisc with no extras. A second VHS was released with an alternate cover that did not show Howard naked so that family friendly stores like K-Mart could safely have the movies on their shelves [ and what a surprise when that family got the video home ]. Less than a year later it was released on the new formats of DVD and DIVX for home computers. It was also released in various countries who enjoyed the movie even though they had no idea who Howard was. As of now everything is out of print in the U.S. due to a dispute between Howard and Paramount on a deluxe edition.
TELEVISION: The Howard Stern Radio Show
In 1998 Howard announced that he was doing a Saturday night show for CBS that would beat Saturday Night Live in the ratings. Fans were disappointed to find out that the CBS show was basically the E! show. They had remembered the now legendary Channel 9 Show and had hoped the CBS show would be the same. Actually the CBS show was an upgrade of the E! show with better production value and interviews edited down to just the best moments. It was not really on the CBS network but syndicated to CBS stations who had the option of airing it or airing their own programming. It lasted two seasons before CBS cancelled it claiming low ratings. Unlike the Channel 9 show that actually beat SNL in the ratings, the CBS show was seen as nothing more than the E! show repackaged. In point of fact the CBS show had first crack at the studio footage and E! did not get the interviews until two weeks after it aired on CBS.
TELEVISION: Private Parts Television Edit [a.k.a. The USA Network Version]
Since Private Parts was an 'R' rated movie it would have to be edited for television. Howard decided to be part of this process. A new introduction was shot where Howard explains why the movie had to be edited for television and during the movie from time to time the picture freezes and Howard walks out on screen to explain why a scene had to be edited or to comment on something going on during the movie. It was basically the same movie as seen in the theaters but with language bleeped and adult content blurred and with the new commentary footage. None of the deleted scenes were used. Although called the USA Version it has since been shown on other channels [ most recently VH1 ] and is the version that will be shown in syndication.
MOVIE: Batman Triumphant
Allegedly Howard was in talks with Warner Brothers to play the Scarecrow in the next Batman movie. Director Joel Schumacher announced that he did not want Howard cast in the next Batman movie. "I wish him the best of luck with his acting endeavors, but I'm not considering him for any of my films." was Schumacher's official comment. Howard denied that he was ever in serious talks to be in the movie but still went on a major rant against Schumacher calling the latest movie "Batman & Robin" the worst film ever made and the director a talentless hack. It should be pointed out that Joel Schumacher had no say in the casting of the Batman movies. A few years later Schumacher admitted in an interview that he had little say in how the Batman movies were made or cast. The studio had fired Tim Burton from the series because they wanted more control. Schumacher took over understanding that he was following strict directions from the studio heads. It was at their insistence that the Batman series went from dark to campy. When Batman & Robin did poorly in the theaters [ but still made over $100 million in profit ] and got bad reviews from critics and comic book fans everywhere ] the studio scapegoated Schumacher and put the series on hiatus. Batman Triumphant [ which was suppose to be the fifth film in the series ] was never made. In 2005 the series was rebooted by Christopher Nolan who chose The Scarecrow as the movie's villain. While many Stern fans insist that Howard was originally considered to play the Scarecrow in "Batman Begins" the movie is part of a completely different series than the Burton/Schumacher series.
A movie Howard was going to do with Melanie Griffith. This was suppose to be Howard's follow up to Private Parts. An independent movie made for the studio Ministry of Film Inc. Howard had a supporting role as a record executive. Howard agreed to do it rearranging his schedule [ re: his vacations ] so that he would have time to film his scenes. But the studio had not yet found enough investors and had hoped to attract more now that Stern was in the cast. The money ran out a few weeks before filming was to begin and the production was put on hold. When a new investor was found the shoot was rescheduled but was now to take place during the days that Howard was not on vacation. Unable to do the movie his part was recast, but once Howard was no longer in the movie investors dropped out and the film was cancelled. Howard had been promised $1.5 million but now that the movie was no longer being made Ministry of Film Inc. decided they no longer had to pay him. Howard filed a lawsuit claiming that the producers had not told him or the other actors that the film was not financed when they hired him. It was settled out of court for $50,000.
MOVIE: Brother Sam
Howard bought the rights to Sam Kinison's biography and announced he was going to produce the movie version. It was the beginning of the Howard Stern Production Company and this was to be it's first production. But no studio was interested in doing a movie about a controversial comedian who dies in an auto accident. Eventually the movie rights ran out and some other producer bought them.
There was still more to come. A website, a production company, and an entire film festival devoted to films about Howard. And then there was that parody of Baywatch. All in part 4 of this article.
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