Jewish World Review June 17, 2004 / 28 Sivan, 5764
I caused Howard Stern to go berserk
NEW YORK The stress of being Howard Stern seems finally to be getting to him.
First the Federal Communications Commission attacked the 50-year-old potty-mouthed shock jock. Then Clear Channel Communications dropped his radio show. Then his loyal patron, Mel Karmazin, was ousted from the executive suite at Viacom, which distributes Stern's show through Infinity Broadcasting.
And now, apparently, the problem is me.
"You're a fg scumbag," Stern erupted Tuesday night.
I had tried to say hello at the 80th birthday party at Hotel Des Artistes for Cafe Des Artistes owner George Lang, and suddenly I was a bit player in Stern's personal melodrama.
"What?" I responded, taken aback. Stern's willowy blond girlfriend, Beth Ostrosky, looked equally stunned, her eyes widening.
"You heard me. You're a fg scumbag," Stern repeated, as Ostrosky tightly gripped his arm.
Then the conversation went something like this:
ME: "But why are you saying that?"
STERN: "You know why."
ME: "I'm afraid I don't."
STERN: "Well, what have you written about me?"
ME: (straining to search my memory): "Er, um, don't you know?"
STERN: "I can't remember. But I know you wrote something that was total bull-. You're a fg scumbag. You're an ahole. You're a bad guy."
ME: "Great. You can't remember why you're angry. You just remember the anger."
The beanpole King of All Media, his face contorted with rage, glared down at me. He looked like he was about to have an aneurysm.
ME: "Chill out, my friend."
STERN: "YOU chill out!"
ME: "I am chilled out."
STERN: "I know you wrote something about me. But listen, if I'm wrong, I'll write you a letter of apology."
Now I was really confused.
Luckily, Stern solved the mystery Wednesday morning on his radio show
where, at great length, he gave his version of our ugly encounter, did a smarmy, effeminate impression of me that was actually pretty funny, and attributed to himself some wonderful lines that unfortunately he didn't manage to get off at the time.
So why was Stern mad at me? Because of an item in this column a couple of weeks ago that suggested that, at the end of an interview in which he accused Jay Leno of stealing his comedy, he lifted an old joke from Johnny Carson.
Stern vehemently insisted that he did no such thing. I wish he or his reps had bothered to respond when I called before writing the original item. Instead they blew me off.
On his show Wednesday, Stern recounted that when Ostrosky finally succeeded in dragging him home from the party, he phoned his producer, Gary Dell'Abate, who quickly located the offending item. Stern said he then decided to return to the party and confront me.
At which point his girlfriend pleaded with him not to.
"Get out of my way, I'm going back there," Stern quoted himself as shouting.
Ostrosky started crying, and Stern relented.
"Here my girlfriend is crying over this," Stern said. "I must be insane."
Far be it from me to disagree.
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© 2003, Creators Syndicate