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Security was tight enough for a presidential visit, but the reason everyone was on high alert was for the King of All Media. Radio shock jock legend, movie star, television personality and judge on America’s Got Talent, Howard Stern was in the house for his 60th birthday party. The four-hour event at the Hammerstein Ballroom on 34th Street in New York City was pretty much a Stern broadcast with a roster of stars as big as an awards show.
The show was put on by Sirius XM satellite radio, Stern’s home since 2006, and broadcast live at siriusxm.com. The stage was outfitted with a radio booth and couch to the left of the events, while at center stage host Jimmy Kimmel and a dazzling array of actors, comedians and musicians performed for the man of the hour. The house was packed with contest winners in the balconies while the floor was filled with star-studded tables of performers and onlookers, from Dr. Drew Pinsky and Rachael Ray, to Barbara Walters and Stern’s wife, Beth Ostrosky Stern, and comedians David Spade and Tracy Morgan.
Rob Zombie and his band kicked off the evening with a rocking version of “The Great American Nightmare” and was followed by an appearance by George Takei. Takei jokingly referred to Zombie as “Rob Zodiac” and introduced Kimmel as the emcee for the event. As master of ceremonies, Kimmel was in excellent form as he ran down a list of Stern’s accomplishments – and compared him to Picasso – before introducing the man himself.
At 60, Stern is sporting a touch of gray in his beard, but looks almost exactly the same as he ever did. Thanking Kimmel, he took his place at the desk and brought out his longtime sidekick Robin Quivers. They bantered a bit and then the house band was introduced, mid-tempo ballad kings Train.
From there on in it was an onslaught of entertainment. The Black Keys played “Lonely Boy” and then Kimmel turned to Jeff Probst, who, with a cameraman following, worked the tables on the floor chatting with various celebs who offered birthday wishes to Stern.
One of the evening’s highlights was an appearance by Joan Rivers and comedian Jeff Ross, who treated their moment like a celebrity roast with a number of dicey zingers. Ross: “Howard has been in radio so long he bought Robin at an auction.” Rivers: “Howard keeps a picture of Beth in his wallet; Beth keeps a picture of Howard’s wallet.”
Later, John Mayer ripped it up on guitar on a version of Bob Dylan’s “Rolling Stone;” and Bryan Cranston drew cheers and thunderous applause simply for showing up. He tweaked the crowd with a signature line from Breaking Bad, and seemed to relish the moment when he said, “Say my name!” Then he offered that Stern “is the one who knocks.”
Embattled New Jersey governor Chris Christie was greeted with a mix of cheers and loud boos and offered his regards before introducing “the man from New Jersey you want to see,” Jon Bon Jovi, who did a version of “Dead or Alive.” Shortly thereafter, Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine joined Train for a version of “Purple Rain” that made a lot of people cheer and sent others to the bar. Comedian Louis C.K. arrived next to join Stern on the couch for a chat. Train later played two songs, “Drive By” and a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “The Ocean.”
Jimmy Fallon appeared and did impressions of comedians who couldn’t make it, hitting with a spot-on Chris Rock. Soon-to-be Late Night host Seth Meyers showed up to offer salutations as well. Video tributes from Neil Young, The Beach Boys, Kathie Lee Gifford, James Hetfield of Metallica, Paul McCartney, Arnold Schwarzenegger and others played between acts.
David Letterman made a surprising and rare live appearance and chatted candidly with Stern for 30 minutes or so, offering his memories of the time the two worked for NBC and Letterman’s drama with The Tonight Show. Jewel got up to sing a song and was followed by Rosie O’Donnell, who serenaded Stern with a parody song from Grease about their former feud. Later, Quivers was serenaded by show regulars Little Mikey, Psych and Eli, then given a strip-tease lap dance by Ryan Phillippe.
John Fogerty, of whom Stern is a huge fan, took a turn onstage, playing “Bad Moon Rising” and “Fortunate Son;” Dave Grohl performed “Everlong” and “My Hero,” and later Robert Downey Jr. came out to introduce Steven Tyler, who played “Dream On” at a white piano, toasting, “Here’s to hell, Howard. May we have as much fun there as we did getting there!” Stern thanked everyone, taking time to mention all the people at Sirius and his long-suffering producer, Gary Dell’abate and co-host Quivers. Ending the night, Tyler brought out special guest Slash and the two of them played “Walk This Way” with Train featuring Grohl on drums as everyone got up to dance.
Sirius XM sure knows how to throw a party, and for Howard Stern’s 60th birthday they really went over the top. The show will be rebroadcast on Sirius XM Monday at 6 a.m.
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