Yesterday, while discussing the movie offers he has received over the years in the wake of his 1997 autobiographical Private Parts, talk radio icon Howard Stern mentioned that he was in talks with director Barry Levinson to star in last year’s political satire Man Of The Year, with Stern in the lead role that was eventually taken by Robin Williams as a political satirist who runs for the highest office in the land. It was announcement that brought to mind visions of his 1994 aborted run for New York governor.
Ultimately, Stern turned down the project despite expressing a desire to really want to work with director Barry Levinson. At the time, Stern was making the move from his FCC-hampered terrestrial radio gig to his new home at Sirius Satellite radio and felt that Sirius deserved his full creative energies at the moment. He also mentioned that he felt the script could have used some punching-up and that he had some ideas in that direction. Unfortunately, Levinson was intent on shooting as soon as possible and couldn’t wait the few months that Stern needed to get to a point where he could concentrate on the film.
What made yesterday’s revelation interesting is that while Stern has mentioned receiving film offers in the past, he has only gone into this amount of detail about these offers once before. Following the release of Private Parts, Stern was set to play the supporting role of a record company executive in the Melanie Griffith project Jane. David Spade was cast as Stern’s character’s assistant. Preproduction on the film had gotten as far as wardrobe fittings before a portion of the funding fell through, resulting in a rescheduled shoot that Stern wasn’t available for. When he dropped out of the project, the rest of the funding for the film fell apart and it was never made.
What isn’t surprising is Stern’s insistence of a re-write of Man Of The Year’s script, especially if the draft he was concerned about is the same one Levinson shot with Williams. Stern has a record of being demanding when it comes to screenplays. The script for Private Parts was in development for nearly three years and had reportedly gone through several writers, including Peter Torokvei (Real Genius, Guarding Tess) before Len Blum and Michael Kalesniko delivered a draft that he approved. Other projects that Stern has announced in the past as developing have also stalled out in the scripting phase.