Private Parts

Robin Quivers, Mary McCormack, Howard Stern

Directed by Betty Thomas
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
March 7, 1997

In his first feature as a director, Take the Money and Run, Woody Allen was ranked out by his childhood cello teacher. "He had no conception of the instrument," the teacher huffed. "He would blow into it." You might say the same thing about Howard Stern and his acting instrument. Actually, Stern might say it. In his first movie, based on his first book, the best-selling 1993 autobiography Private Parts, the radio jock comes off as a master of self-deprecation. Stern knows that his millions of fans are matched by millions of others who'd like to gag his famously foul mouth. The movie, by con or charm, means to reshape our perceptions of the media storm trooper.

Howard Stern Does Hollywood: Rolling Stone's 1997 Cover Story

What can I tell you? It works. Private Parts is a comic firecracker with a surprising human touch. The premise of Len Blum's script is that the on-air Stern is a Frankenstein monster. Off the air, he is a reclusive, doting husband and dad. Of course, faithful Stern still fantasizes about the babes on his show, including the Kielbasa Queen, who fellates a 13-inch sausage. Stern makes a great Howard. Forget the acting. Stern appears to be having a roaring good time on camera, and the spirit is contagious.

It also helps that director Betty Thomas (HBO's The Late Shift) has a wicked knack for buoyant biography. Private Parts tracks Stern from his youth on New York's Long Island — three actors play him at 7, 12 and 16. Stern steps in at age 20. OK, he doesn't look 20, but as he quips in a voice-over: "This is the movies — you gotta suspend disbelief."

Howard Stern's Universe: Robin Quivers, Crackhead Bob and 14 More People to Know

Howard's rise through censorship battles and five radio stations teams him with sidekick Robin Quivers, engineer Fred Norris, writer Jackie "The Joke Man" Martling and producer Gary Dell'Abate — all first-rate as themselves.

Alison, Stern's wife, is played by Mary McCormack, of TV's Murder One. Her performance provides the film's emotional anchor. Convinced that Howard's public personality is an act, Alison is still wounded by his on-air jokes about her miscarriage and their sex life. Private Parts, for all its explosive laughs, is that rare comedy that allows for the sweet, messy sprawl of reality.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Try a Little Tenderness”

    Otis Redding | 1966

    This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

    More Song Stories entries »