Howard Spurned

Anyone remember Howard Stern?

Hard as it to believe, it was just a scant six weeks that every magazine and newspaper writer in America seemed stricken with a sudden urge to kiss the radio provocateur's sagging, hirsute ass: even The New Yorker weighed in with a judicious hagiography. His long-awaited movie was about to open; ABC movie flack Joel Siegel was predicting at least $100 million at the box office; the pasty-faced agoraphobe was suddenly golden.

But despite all the premature, ejaculatory praise, Private Parts proved itself a two-minute lover. It opened at number one but then quickly started falling; now it's gone from all but a few of the thousands of screens it once occupied. In a month or so, the King of Some Media will no doubt start pitching the video.

Most reports estimate the movie's total gross at around $40 million; since it cost $20 million to make and another $10 million to market, Jim Carrey seems fairly secure in his role as box office king. Jim Belushi ought to worry, however. With a few more flops like Private Parts under his belt, Stern could own the underperforming comedy niche.

In all seriousness, Private Parts' disappointing showing is probably the best thing for Stern's career in the long run. His appeal has always depended on his regular-guy, outsider status. He's the frustrated ogler who can leer at mainstream success - and maybe even surreptitiously fondle it on occasion - but never really have it. With his best-selling books and his millions of rabid fans, Stern was growing too big for his bitches; failure gives him something to covet.

-- G. Beato

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