Is Howard Stern the next Simon Cowell? NBC is hoping that the reliably provocative shock jock will bring that magically surly Cowell touch to America's Got Talent, its hit summer reality competition. The network announced Thursday that Stern will replace Piers Morgan as judge on the show's upcoming season. It's a costly hire — NBC will reportedly pay Stern $15 million and fork over another $10 million to move production to New York to accommodate his schedule — and some critics are questioning its wisdom, considering the raucous radio personality's polarizing reputation. Will NBC regret this move?
This is a "terrible choice": Sure, hiring Stern brings NBC "a good amount of built-in publicity," says Dorothy Pomerantz at Forbes. But he could "turn out to be a big waste of money." To begin with, market polling shows that nearly two-thirds of the public has a negative opinion of Stern. And, demographically speaking, his existing fan base isn't likely to watch such a wholesome TV show each week. "One has to wonder why NBC is making such a risky move with one of its few hit shows."
"Why Howard Stern is a terrible choice for NBC"
Actually, it could be a great move: It's a gamble, certainly, says Aly Semigran at Entertainment Weekly. But a smart gamble for NBC. If it pays off, "Stern could turn out to be one of the best reality TV judges on television." Simon Cowell is the clear precedent — someone who is "disliked for his brashness and beloved as a staple of reality TV." Stern could be just what America's Got Talent needs: A judge who has that complicated "hate/love to love/hate" relationship with the audience.
"Howard Stern as an AGT judge: News that makes you want to watch… or avoid the show for good?"
And the morality police need not worry: Concerns that Stern may prove too R-rated for America's Got Talent are being blown out of proportion, says Amanda Dobbins at New York. "Anyone wondering how on earth Howard Stern will make it through an hour of network television without running afoul of censors" needs only look at fellow AGT judge, Sharon Osbourne. The typically foul-mouthed Brit has managed to stay family-friendly since joining the series in its second season. No doubt that Stern could pull it off, too.
"Howard Stern is your new America's Got Talent judge"