Howard Stern Says He’s ‘Insulted’ By Talk He’ll Replace Fallon

by | March 14, 2013 at 4:28 PM | Late Night, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, TV News

Howard Stern (Photo: Getty Images)

Howard Stern says a published report that he’s being “groomed” to take over NBC’s “Late Night” is an “insult.”

Stern, 59, reacted to the report earlier this week on his Sirius XM radio show after he returned from a week of auditions in New Orleans for this summer’s season of “America’s Got Talent” on NBC.

Why is the idea insulting? According to this story on Stern’s comments, and our interpretation of them, Stern seems to feel he’s really too big a star at this point to accept a job as host of a second-tier late-night show like the 12:35 a.m. show on NBC.

Plus, Stern — who is famous for his zeal for following the late-night wars (and commenting on them whenever he’s on the “Letterman” show) — said he doesn’t even think NBC is really planning to jettison Jay Leno. That, of course, would be the first necessary order of business in the chain of events that would create an opening in the host’s job on “Late Night” in the first place — since it would result, allegedly, in Jimmy Fallon moving to California to take over “The Tonight Show.” That scenario was sketched out in another story that broke earlier this month.

But first, this Stern situation: The story Stern was reacting to was one published in the New York Post on March 6 that quoted unnamed sources “close to” Stern as saying Stern is being “groomed” by NBC to take over “Late Night” when Fallon leaves.

Latest news on the late-night wars: Our coverage so far:
Leno Battles Replacement Reports With More Monologue Jokes
Returning Leno ‘Reacts’ to Fallon Replacement Plan in Monday Monologue
NBC ‘Grooming’ Howard Stern to Take Over for Fallon: Report
NBC Formulating Plan for Fallon to Succeed Leno in 2014: Report

In his comments this week, Stern indicated the story is untrue. “First of all, what an insult,” Stern is quoted as saying. “Like, all the years of my career, I’m like the biggest guy in radio. I’ve done film. I’ve done television. … I mean, they act like I’m some kind of [expletive deleted] beginner or something. … Maybe if I’m really nice to NBC they’ll let me take over Carson Daly’s show at like 2 o’clock in the morning!”

The story also says Stern pointed out that his radio show earns him 10 times the money Fallon makes as host of “Late Night,” so why on earth would Stern want the lower-paying, lower-profile job?

Our take: He’s really right about this. Love him or hate him, Howard Stern is not the kind of “up and coming” talent NBC should be looking at for “Late Night” in any case. And we doubt Lorne Michaels, who has the final say-so on this (or so we’ve come to believe), would go for it. More likely, Michaels will elevate someone from “Saturday Night Live” such as Seth Meyers, 39 — someone with a following in the age group NBC wants to attract in the time period.

Of course, everything depends on NBC dislodging Leno. And Stern doesn’t think that’s gonna happen. “I was asking some of the [NBC] executives, when I was down there doing ‘AGT’,” he said. “And I was like, ‘You guys don’t respect Jay at all, do you?’ They go, ‘We’re not firing him!’ That’s what they said to me, so I don’t know how any of this is true … I don’t know. I want to say ‘no comment’. I want to keep it going.”

As for the story that Fallon will replace Leno in summer 2014, that story has yet to be solidly confirmed, although Leno’s been joking about it this week on “The Tonight Show” (catch up with Jay’s jokes with our previous stories, above).