Howard Stern will not be replacing Simon Cowell, according to American Idol insiders. This week,the Idol nation buzzed with the possibility, first mentioned in the New York Post. The rumor was propelled by Stern on his radio show yesterday when he said, “It might be possible, we’ll see.”
There is, however, less to the story than meets the eye. Two Idol insiders told The Daily Beast that no offer has been made to Stern, and that in fact, with the new season just beginning, the show is months away from choosing a replacement for Cowell. A source familiar with the search process says Stern was never even being considered.
• Richard Rushfield: Ellen’s First IdolA careful listen to Stern’s words shows he was not exactly confirming that he had been offered the job, despite how it was interpreted. What Stern said was, “There’s not a better job on the planet than judging that fucking karaoke contest…It might be possible, we’ll see. They’d have to pay me a ton of dough because I already make a ton of dough.”
Making the whole scenario even more fantastical, he also referred to Ryan Seacrest as a “shithead,” new judge Ellen DeGeneres as a “fucker,” and went on to make other scatological comments about former contestants. (To listen, an excellent Idol destination spot MJsbigblog has audio clips. )
What Stern seemed to be saying—which, on top of the Post report saying producers want him—is, if they offered it to me, I’d consider it. In keeping this talk alive, Stern does not appear really to be angling for a seat on the Idol panel, but finagling for leverage in the ongoing renegotiation of his contract with Sirius XM, which expires next January. And much of the media bought it.
Stern is not likely to be the last who will play this game in coming months.
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Richard Rushfield is a four-year veteran of the American Idol beat and the author of a recent memoir, Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost.