Howard Stern says he isn't worried about going mainstream on NBC's "America's Got Talent," and joked that the parents' group already protesting his appearance on the show is run by "some guy sitting in his basement" manufacturing outrage to raise money.
After starting a news conference by greeting the assembled press with a "baba booey," Stern also took aim at TV's top-rated show: "Watching 'American Idol,' you could throw up," he said. He added of "Idol" judge Jennifer Lopez: "I don't understand what she's doing there."
Stern, infamous for blunt and graphic talk on his radio shows, said he hasn't received any criticisms or notes from NBC executives. He said he asked an NBC executive why, and was told, "Listen, you're Howard Stern. What are we gonna tell you?"
Stern was fired from radio station WNBC in 1985, and said Thursday that then-NBC chairman Grant Tinker said at the time that Stern would only work for NBC again "over my dead body."
"And now he's a dead body," Stern said, incorrectly. Tinker remains alive. (Stern made the same mistake during an appearance on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" on Wednesday.)
As an example of his long leash from NBC, Stern noted that he makes no secret of his disdain for Jay Leno — and said NBC didn't stop him from berating "The Tonight Show" host during the Fallon appearance.
"I admire that they didn’t have it killed and I admire that Jay didn’t have it killed," he said.
Others haven't been so tolerant. Earlier this month, the Parents Television Council wrote to 91 "America's Got Talent" advertisers cautioning that they may want to drop the show before Stern joins the judges' panel for the May 14 season premiere.
"You can't complain about the show until you see the show," Stern said. "Some guy sitting in his basement, calling himself the Parent Television Council, I don’t think there's 25 people in this thing. I think it’s a money raising racket."
Stern also said at the news conference, at New York City's Friars Club, that he sincerely wants to mentor people and help contestants on the show succeed as he has. He said he isn't worried about going mainstream or setting off censors, noting that he has done plenty of television before.
"I respect what 'America's Got Talent' is. It is a family show," he said. "I don’t want to come in there and do the Howard Stern show. I don’t want to interrupt the flow."
He added: "I don’t think I'm losing my edge because I've always been about honesty. … And as long as you're honest, you don’t lose your edge."
Stern also joked that he gets along well with his fellow "Talent" judges, Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel, but considers himself superior to both of them.
He recounted that during early rounds of the competition, both of them disagreed with him on a contestant, and he pulled rank.
"I make 500 times more money than you do," he recalled telling them. "They've made a movie about my life. … Really, let's end this conversation now. I'm the bigger talent and you should go with my opinion."
They won the argument.
In a serious moment, Stern praised President Obama for saying Wednesday that he supports gay marriage — but believed the president should have gone further.
"I wish he had said he was going to back some legislation on the national level," he said.
Stern said he had never had serious talks about joining "American Idol," but that he had briefly spoken with ABC about being the judge on a show. He said judging "Idol" didn't appeal to him because he would rather judge a variety show like "Talent" than an exclusive singing show.
He also judged the competition on other reality competitions. He said he is a fan of Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid's critiques on "X Factor," but that "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest "is kind of tired" and doesn't relate to contestants as well as "Talent" host Nick Cannon. Stern said he would be more blunt with contestants than Lopez is on "Idol."
"If I sit there and just sit in a beautiful dress and tell them they're wonderful, they're not going to get anywhere," he said.