Private Parts (1997 film)
Theatrical release poster.
|Directed by||Betty Thomas|
|Produced by||Ivan Reitman|
|Screenplay by||Len Blum
|Based on||Private Parts
by Howard Stern
|Music by||Rob Zombie
Porno for Pyros
The Dust Brothers
|Edited by||Peter Teschner|
Northern Lights Entertainment
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
Private Parts is a 1997 American biographical comedy film produced by Ivan Reitman and released by Paramount Pictures. Written by Len Blum and Michael Kalesniko, the film is an adaptation of the 1993 best-selling book of the same name by radio personality Howard Stern, who stars as himself. It follows his life from boyhood to the cusp of break-out success in radio. His radio show staff also star in the film, including newscaster and co-host Robin Quivers, producers Fred Norris and Gary Dell'Abate and comedian Jackie Martling.
Development began after Stern, who insisted on script approval, rejected multiple write-ups. Filming started in May 1996 and lasted for four months, with director Betty Thomas. Private Parts was first screened on February 27, 1997 in New York City, followed by a general release in the United States on March 3. It topped the box office in its opening weekend with a gross of $14.6 million. It went on to earn $41.2 million in domestic revenue overall and $44 million more worldwide. In 1998, the film was released on DVD and Stern won a Blockbuster Award for Favorite Male Newcomer.
Howard Stern boards a flight home following an appearance at the MTV Music Video Awards as his alter-ego, "Fartman". He finds himself seated next to Gloria (Carol Alt), who is visibly repulsed by him. He begins to tell his life story in his mind from his childhood, explaining the verbal abuse he received from his father Ben (Richard Portnow). Stern dreams of being on the radio after going to work with his father, a recording engineer, and grows up to be a quiet, socially awkward teenager. He then studies communications at Boston University, where he becomes a disc jockey at WTBU, the college radio station. He meets and becomes close to Alison (Mary McCormack), the girl of his dreams before graduating. It is 1977, and Howard works at WRNW in Briarcliff Manor, New York. He gets promoted to program director, where his increase in salary allows him to marry Alison. After being forced to fire a fellow DJ, he quits the station.
In 1979, Howard leaves WRNW for WCCC in Hartford, Connecticut. He befriends fellow DJ Fred Norris and adopts a more casual attitude on the air by becoming honest and upfront. The two are soon invited to a red carpet premiere of actress Brittany Fairchild's (Melanie Good) new film. The three leave during the screening for Fairchild's hotel room, where she strips for a bath, and convinces Howard and Fred to sit in the bathtub with her, albeit with their underwear on, but after Howard reluctantly does so, Brittany's behavior becomes sexual, and an embarrassed Howard leaves. Alison later finds his wet underwear in their car, and deducing that he has been unfaithful to her, she leaves him. It is now 1980, and Howard leaves Hartford for a job at WWWW in Detroit, Michigan. He becomes miserable without Alison, but Alison comes to Detroit, where she forgives him and takes him back. Meanwhile, WWWW switches formats from rock to country music to increase ratings, and Howard quits thereafter. He is then hired at WWDC in Washington, D.C., where he meets Robin Quivers, the news anchor for his program, whom Howard encourages to talk and contribute on air. The two refuse orders from their boss Dee Dee (Allison Janney) for constantly breaking format. One of their antics, in which Howard gives a female caller (Theresa Lynn) an orgasm on the air, almost gets him fired until a boost in ratings forces Dee Dee to keep him. Fred is then hired to contribute. Meanwhile, Alison announces her pregnancy, but it ends in miscarriage. Although they cheer each other up joking about it, Howard makes light of it on the air, which upsets her greatly.
When Alison gets pregnant again, Howard, Fred and Robin move to WNBC in New York City, where he earns more money and has the chance to make his show become a nationwide success. Upper management at NBC's flagship station offered him a 3 year, $450,000 closed-end contract, not realizing what Stern's show was like until they saw a news report on the subject. Kenny "Pig Vomit" Rushton (Paul Giamatti) takes on the job of keeping Howard in line, or forcing him to quit, as the latter is the only way out of their contract. After ignoring Kenny's orders of two-minute bits without swearing and sexual references on air, Kenny retaliates by firing Robin. The show fails in her absence after Quivers's replacement is hired, who quits after a few days when an actress swallowing a kielbasa gets put on the air. Robin is eventually brought back. Howard's antics continue, with Kenny ultimately cutting a broadcast off for having a young woman named Mandy (Jenna Jameson) strip naked in the studio and give him a massage. Howard gets the show back on the air, and broadcasts he and Kenny getting into a physical altercation with each other in his office. In May 1985, when the new ratings come in and Howard becomes number one, Kenny comes over to Howard's home trying to suck up to him, and is turned down flat. He thanks the fans with a concert by AC/DC. During the performance, Alison is rushed to hospital and gives birth to a baby daughter.
Back on the flight, it is revealed he told his whole story to Gloria, and Howard now believes he could get her, but stays loyal to Alison. He gets off the plane revealing Alison and his three daughters running to greet him. During the end credits, Stuttering John (John Melendez) rants about his absence in the film. Mia Farrow then presents a best actor award for Howard at an Oscars ceremony. He appears as Fartman once again, with Howard falling in mid-air, which the audience applaud for. Next is a clip of Kenny, who no longer works for WNBC (or radio itself) and is now the manager of a shopping mall. He then blames Howard for his downfall. During his outbursts, his foul language is blocked out by jackhammer noises.
- Howard Stern as Himself
- Robin Quivers as Herself
- Mary McCormack as Alison Stern
- Fred Norris as Himself
- Paul Giamatti as Kenny "Pig Vomit" Rushton
- Carol Alt as Gloria
- Richard Portnow as Ben Stern
- Kelly Bishop as Ray Stern
- Sasha Martin as Emily Beth Stern
- Sarah Hyland as Debra Jennifer Stern
- Michael Murphy as Roger Elick
- Reni Santoni as Vin Vallesecca
- Allison Janney as Dee Dee
- Melanie Good as Brittany Fairchild
- Leslie Bibb as the WNBC Page/Tour Guide
- Camille Donatacci Grammer as Camille the Card Girl
- Edie Falco as Alison's Friend
- Jenna Jameson as Mandy
- Amber Smith as Julie
- Janine Lindemulder as Camp Director's Wife
- John Melendez as Stuttering John
- Michael C. Gwynne as Duke of Rock (as Michael Gwynne)
- Paul Hecht as Ross Buckingham
- James Murtaugh as Payton
- As themselves
- Gary Dell'Abate
- Jackie Martling
- David Letterman
- Mia Farrow
- Crackhead Bob
- Nicole Bass
- AC/DC (Brian Johnson, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Phil Rudd, Cliff Williams)
- Ozzy Osbourne appears during the opening scene, commenting on Stern saying: "What a f***ing jerk "
- Dee Snider appears during the opening scene
- Tiny Tim appears during the opening scene
- John Stamos appears during the opening scene, filling in for Luke Perry, who introduced Stern at the real MTV Video Music Awards
- Flavor Flav appears during the opening scene
- John Popper appears during the opening scene
- Slash appears during the opening scene
- Ted Nugent appears during the opening scene
- MC Hammer appears during the opening scene
- Other characters
- Alison Stern (Howard Stern's then real-life wife) plays one of the receptionists at WNBC during the "Lance Eluction" segment
- Nancy Sirianni, (Jackie Martiling's then real-life wife) appears in the college film festival scene, seated in front of Stern.
- Allison Furman-Norris (Fred Norris' real life wife) appears as a receptionist at WRNW.
In the early 1990s, Stern originally was set to make a movie based on his satirical alter-ego Fartman. Stern first revealed his intentions to make a Fartman movie in 1992. On November 25, 1992, Variety reported that J. F. Lawton, writer of Pretty Woman and Under Siege, was planning to write and direct New Line Cinema's Stern film project, titled The Adventures of Fartman. The film, which would be budgeted at $8–11 million, was expected to go into production the following May in New York. David Permut would produce the film under his Permut Presentations Banner, which has a first-look deal at New Line. According to Lawton, The Adventures of Fartman would revolve around the superhero and his alter ego, a magazine publisher in the mold of Screw magazine's Al Goldstein. Lawton told Time, "There's a lot of nudity, some harsh language, a lesbian love scene, and the main character works for an underground sex magazine. We told New Line Cinema the plot, and they said, 'Yeah, it sounds great. But can't we make it PG-13?' "
Due to Stern's displeasure with making a PG film and dissatisfaction with scripts the movie was never put into production and Stern decided to look into adaptations of his best-selling first book instead. Stern rejected countless scripts before deciding to make the movie, some he claimed involved scenes beginning the movie with "Richard Simmons chasing me around the house in a tutu". Ivan Reitman, a friend of Howard's agreed that the scripts were unsatisfactory and became attached to the movie as the producer. Betty Thomas, who had previously directed The Brady Bunch Movie and The Late Shift, was chosen to direct. David Letterman agreed to play himself in a brief re-enactment of one of Stern's early appearances on Late Night. Originally, producers considered Jeff Goldblum to play Stern, as well as Julia Louis-Dreyfus being Stern's wife, Alison. Stern decided he should play himself; in the film, Howard acknowledges looking too old to play a teenager but insists the viewer has to suspend disbelief. Louis-Dreyfus later backed out because she wanted to spend time with her family.
Stern, Quivers, and the rest of the cast from The Howard Stern Show were still broadcasting five days a week during the production of the film. At the end of every show, they would immediately drive to the film's set. A few scenes during Stern's college years were filmed at CUNY Lehman College in The Bronx, New York City. For the scenes that featured Stern in high school, filming was done at Union High School (from which comedian Artie Lange, who would join the radio show in late 2001, graduated in 1985). The concert scene featuring AC/DC was filmed at Bryant Park in New York City in July 1996.
The film premiered at the top of the box-office in its opening weekend with a gross of $14.6 million. It went on to gross $41,230,799 at the end of its domestic run.
A substantially different version of Private Parts appeared on Internet fan sites devoted to Stern sometime in May 2006. The newly found version is an early rough cut of the film with substantially different dialogue and music, several deleted scenes, and a very different ending. Some of the deleted scenes, such as Howard being fired and escorted out of WNBC, appeared in the film's original trailer and publicity materials before being cut. The picture quality of the Internet version is very poor with compression artifacts, VHS artifacts, and visible dust on the print.
The USA Network agreed to pay $7 million for the rights to air the film for nine years from 1999. The editing featured on-air explanations from Stern for the pixelization and bleep censors required to air the R-rated film. Stern appeared in new taped segments in which he occasionally pauses the film to comment on it. USA premiered the film even though no alternate scenes had been filmed to replace the nudity nor had any alternate dialogue been recorded to replace the profanity for television broadcasts. The nudity was simply pixelized and the profanity bleeped. In 2007, VH-1 began airing this version.
The film premiered in 1080 High Definition on Universal HD on March 11, 2008. It is the uncut feature-film version with minor commercial interruptions.
When the film was released on video, some store customers objected to the original cover featuring Stern with no clothes on. An alternative version of the cover was produced featuring Stern fully clothed.
It received positive critical praise including Siskel and Ebert, Joel Silver and Gene Shalit. Stern in particular received high praise for his acting, as did Robin Quivers and Fred Norris. Paul Giamatti was also praised, notably propelling him to stardom. Some critics claimed that the film glossed over his use of sexual and racial humor and that it was relatively brief on recent events of Howard's career. Rotten Tomatoes retrospectively collected 49 reviews and gave it a "Certified Fresh" score of 80%, with the site's consensus "A surprisingly endearing biopic about the controversial shock-jock Howard Stern that is equally funny and raunchy."
For his performance, Stern won the Blockbuster Entertainment Award for "Favorite Male Newcomer". The awards are given by the result of write-in votes from fans and Stern won by a wide margin. Stern was nominated for a Golden Satellite Award for "Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy". He was also nominated for a Razzie Award for "Worst New Star".
For her directing work Betty Thomas won the audience award at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (1997). She was also nominated for Crystal Globe in Karlovy Vary which went, at the end, to Ma Vie en Rose by Alain Berliner.
American Film Institute recognition:
- Lawton directs Stern in wind-breaking film variety.com, November 25, 1992</ref On June 28, 1993, Time
- Hollywood's Summer: Just Kidding Time Magazine, June 28, 1993
- "ABC & NBC At Odds Over Use Of Peru Hostae-Rescue Tape". The New York Times. April 23, 1997. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
- "Let the Battle Begin! Tuesday is Shaping Up Nets' Fight Night". The New York Times. August 27, 1999. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
- "Private Parts (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees
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