NEW YORK — Howard Stern has never been shy about pushing boundaries or offending anyone. Yet the self-proclaimed “King of All Media” wrestled with the idea of including his interview with Harvey Weinstein in his new book, “Howard Stern Comes Again.”
The book is a collection of interviews from Stern’s radio show interspersed with details about his own life.
He told The Associated Press that he worried his interview with Weinstein, accused of sexual assault, would traumatize alleged victims if it was reprinted in the book. But Stern ultimately saw value in including an excerpt from the 2014 interview on his SiriusXM show, in which he asks about the rumoured “casting couch” and Weinstein eloquently denies it. To Stern, it was a perfect example of hypocrisy.
“He gives me such a beautiful answer on how that can’t be in his world, how the films can’t be that way, how people need to feel safe,” Stern said. “In other words, he knew everything you should do and say. This is not a guy who didn’t know better. But he couldn’t control himself and like so many hypocrites … He knew.” (Weinstein has denied all allegations of sexual assault and has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges against him.)
Stern offers up plenty of other life lessons in his latest book, some from the many interviews he has conducted over a decades-long career and some from his past.
In a recent interview with The AP, Stern talked about what he’s learned and what he regrets:
THE GIFT OF THERAPY
Stern credits psychoanalysis with helping him overcome some demons.
“I had some growing up to do,” he said.
The process didn’t begin well. Seems Stern forgot that therapy wasn’t the same as hosting his radio show.
“I was literally sitting there trying to make him laugh and entertain him, and he caught on right away. He said ‘What are you doing? I don’t find any of this funny. I find some of it sad,'” he recalled.
“It was mind-blowing to me for the first time to be heard like that.”
Those sessions also made him a better interviewer, he said.
“What ended up happening, not even through some sort of conscious effort — I would sit down with people and say gee, I would love to let them be heard.”
THE MEAN SIDE OF HIS INTERVIEWS
Stern said insecurities early in his career kept him from feeling happy.
“When I was on K-Rock (in New York) and syndicated around the country, the programming guy said to me, ‘One in every four cars on the Long Island Expressway is listening to you,'” Stern said. “Instead of being happy, I’d be depressed. I’d be like, what about the other three cars?”
His unreasonable expectations led him to treat some of his guests badly, he said.
AN APOLOGY NEVER HEARD
Regrets in the studio? His treatment of the late Robin Williams tops the list.
“Instead of him learning that I was a big fan of his, I would just club him with a question that was ridiculous, you know, like about his nanny. He married his nanny or something like that,” Stern said.
“I literally was going to pick up the phone the week that he killed himself,” Stern said. “I would have just said to him, you know, Robin, I want to apologize. I’m such a fan of yours and I was in such a deep hole in my life. … Not trying to get him to come on the show again or anything like that but just to say, look, I didn’t get it right. I was being an (expletive).”
Two years ago, Stern took a rare day off from work, and when he came back on the air, he joked about having the flu. But it was a little more serious.
He had a suspicious growth on his kidney and a low white blood cell count, which he feared was cancer. After a surgical procedure, the problem was revealed to be a small, benign cyst.
Still, it challenged his sense of invincibility.
“I was nervous to bring it up. It was a way of confronting my own mortality, and it brought me to this book,” Stern said.
A PRE-PRESIDENTIAL FRIENDSHIP
Donald Trump was one of Stern’s favourite guests before he assumed the presidency, and that’s reflected in the book.
“I had to include Donald Trump because so much was made of my interviews with him,” Stern said. During Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, excerpts from those interviews were often the topic of political shows.
“I tried to do little snapshots throughout the book — ‘and now a word from our president’ — because I was trying to show you a transition from great talk show guest to politician,” Stern said.
Those wild conversations covered everything from mocking a presidential run to details of Trump’s sex life. Stern says their relationship soured when Stern declined to endorse Trump.
“I really felt Hillary Clinton would have been the better choice because she was a career politician who had proven herself in many different areas,” Stern said.
Trump is welcome to come back on the show, he said, but the line of questioning would not be as casual.
“It wouldn’t be like the old days, that’s for sure,” he said. “I’d have to ask him some questions which probably wouldn’t really be framed for my show.”
John Carucci, The Associated Press