It was 25 years ago when Howard Stern had a less-than-successful week of guest appearances on "The Hollywood Squares." In his pre-"King of All Media" days, the radio host said that Jm. J. Bullock of "Too Close for Comfort" fame was a more desirable celebrity guest back in 1986. Contestants barely called on him the entire week.
Stern has come a long way since then, as witnessed by his triumphant debut on "America's Got Talent." The radio personality had to feel his way at first, but he brings years of experience to the judge's table. Stern knows talent, and it shows in the way he handled himself the Season 7 "AGT" premiere.
Getting the "Wack Pack" out of the way early.
Howard Stern's radio career attracted several bizarre fans, known affectionately as the "Wack Pack." The producers at "America's Got Talent" decided to get the wackiness out of their system early by deploying a series of oddly talentless contestants in Los Angeles.
The shock jock is no stranger to nudity or crudeness, but Aoni Jackson, the so-called "Stripping Magician," unleashed an act that simply didn't make sense. Initially encouraged by Jackson's professional appearance, Stern enthused "I said to Howie and Sharon that I do believe a magician could easily win it."
His enthusiasm faded, though, when Jackson's lack of polish and presentation became clear. Jackson managed to make it through his magic and stripping, which culminated in hanging Howie Mandel's ring off his exposed left nipple.
"Look, I had a lot of hope for you. I was really rooting for you. I wanted to see some magic and all I saw was a guy with his pants off and a rather small package, quite frankly," Stern said. "Don't feel bad -- I'm in the same boat, my friend."
William Close, who makes musical instruments for a living, provided the first truly genuine moment of the night.
"I need clarification on this. You say you make a living at doing this. What kind of living are we talking about," Stern asked. "I'm smelling a kind of hippie thing where you are living on 10 dollars a month."
Stern was delightfully surprised, though, when Close played his "Earth Harp," an amazing invention that transformed the Orpheum Theater into a musical instrument. Close is advancing to the next round in Las Vegas.
Stern gets into high gear in St. Louis.
The second segment took place at the Fox Theater in St. Louis. A much looser Stern settled into what should be his pattern for Season 7. For lack of a better term, Stern will be stern with the contestants and will suffer no fools gladly.
The media personality seemed grateful for the amount of talent that St. Louis brought to the stage. The Loyalty Dance Team won the judges over with their display of talent and unity. Simply Sergio appeared to be a bad novelty act, but when he switched gears to opera, he unleashed a powerful instrument that earned him a trip to Las Vegas.
In a darkened venue, the Light Wire Theater brought the house down with their fusion of dance and electronics. The performers used their bodies and strategically placed lights to recreate the movements of dinosaurs and pterodactyls.
The big winners of the night were, however, Shanice and Maurice, two street musicians who complemented each other beautifully. They also happen to be father and daughter, which makes them the pair to beat thus far on "AGT."