Howard Stern this week compared one of the contestants on “America’s Got Talent” to a case of herpes.
And that’s all you need to know to understand how Stern has changed “AGT” as the show’s newest judge this season.
And since we haven’t showcased “AGT” in the top spot of our Top Five in a while (if ever), then this week seems like a good time to start.
1) Howard Stern on “America’s Got Talent”: Please understand — our placing Howard here in the first position in the Top Five in no way represents an endorsement from us of his merits as an “AGT” judge. In fact, we’ve run hot and cold on this guy for more than 20 years — sometimes respecting his outspokenness, his honesty and his raw talent for broadcasting, and at other times, being totally repelled by what he has to say and how he says it. And as a matter of fact, compared to the bulk of his career — 99 percent of it on radio, of course — likening a singer to herpes this week on “AGT” is the least of Howard Stern’s offenses over the years.
The thing is: Unlike his radio shows, “AGT” is a family show. Comparing someone to herpes doesn’t strike us as particularly family-like.
2) Jay Leno? Yes, Jay Leno: We’re more accustomed to showcasing the YouTube-ready videos churned out by the likes of Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon these days, but a bit we saw this week on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” had us wondering if “The Tonight Show” was poised to rouse itself out of its workaday slumber and try competing for a change. We make no claims to judging the YouTube worthiness of late-night comedy bits, but nevertheless, we laughed out loud at this Leno bit that spoofed summer TV shows. If you watch the video, then you’ll understand: When it comes to comedy, we don’t kid around.
3) Savannah Guthrie to the rescue (well, not really): Let the record show that the Savannah Guthrie era of “The Today Show” began this week — the era in which NBC believed Guthrie would save the show from the ratings declines that afflicted it in the year of Ann Curry. Well, all available evidence indicates that, as far as Savannah’s first week on the job is concerned, the situation is worse now than it was before. According to various published reports, ABC’s “Good Morning America” edged out “Today” just about all week. We certainly bear no will for Ms. Guthrie, but we have to wonder: If “GMA” keeps winning, what will Matt Lauer and his producers do then?
4) “White Collar” magic: You know, one of the nice things about toiling as a journo on the TV beat is the opportunity to meet and talk with various television personalities. So when I happen to mention to some women I know that have met and actually spoken with “White Collar” star Matt Bomer, they seem to go weak in the knees at the prospect of actually coming face to face with this guy (even though it’s no secret that he’s gay). OK, even I have to admit he’s ridiculously handsome, as even more people — women, probably — are finding out these days when they encounter him in the male-stripper movie “Magic Mike.” Well, he didn’t quit his day job to make that movie and the TV show that represents his “day” job, the sprightly USA Network series “White Collar,” made its return to USA Network this week.
5) Jimmy Fallon’s impression of Regis doing Regis: We previously noted the appearance of Kelly Ripa on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” this week — an appearance notable mostly for the way she deftly evaded having to answer Jimmy’s questions about who’s the frontrunner for the co-host’s position on her morning show. But one thing we neglected to mention: During the segment, Fallon did an impression of Regis Philbin that was really an impression of how Regis does himself when he goes on talk shows such as “Late Night.”