New "America's Got Talent" judge Howard Stern says that his critics should watch before attacking him.
Stern debuts Monday as Piers Morgan's replacement on NBC's summertime talent show. Yet a group that calls attention to bad language and risqué content on television has already written to advertisers asking them to stay away. The Parents Television Council said the radio shock jock's addition "will likely result in a sharp increase in explicit content."
In an hour-long, expletive-free news conference on Thursday, Stern dismissed those concerns and said that he fully understands that "America's Got Talent" is a family show.
"I really feel a responsibility to the people who love this show already," Stern said. "In no way do I want to get in the way of it. I want to broaden it and make it better."
Stern said his critics "are entitled to their opinion. They just sound awfully foolish when they haven't seen the show."
Still, his reputation precedes him. Stern noted that before an appearance on "The View" Thursday, executive producer Bill Geddie came over to instruct Stern on what he could or couldn't say on the air. "I know the rules," Stern said. "Bill, I'm 58 years old. I feel like I'm 14" getting a lecture, he said.
"Hopefully America will like this and put everybody's fears to rest," he said.
NBC moved the show's base from California to Newark, N.J., to accommodate Stern's satellite radio schedule when he agreed to replace Morgan. He said he has taken the role of being the "honest" judge who doesn't sugarcoat things for contestants.
Stern said he was a fan of the show before being asked to be on it, preferring it to "American Idol" because the wider variety of acts on "America's Got Talent" makes it seem like vaudeville.
"I didn't need the money," he said. "I didn't need more fame. I certainly feel famous enough. I'm comfortable in my life. I just love the show and thought how much fun it would be to do it."
He's paired with Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne as judges, and he offered praise of their work. He flashed attitude about some rivals, though: "American Idol" makes him want to throw up, he said, and host Ryan Seacrest is "tired."
"J.Lo, I don't even know what she's doing there," he said of "American Idol" judge Jennifer Lopez. Of Britney Spears, under consideration as a new judge on "The X Factor," he said people are going to tune in to see "if she can function through the whole thing."
Stern said he thinks his radio audience is ready to see him try something new. He's curious about how it turns out; his usual experience is turning around a low-performing asset, but in "America's Got Talent," he's joining a show that already has a successful track record.
"If it doesn't work, I'll crawl back into my hole at Sirius and lick my wounds," he said. "If it does work, I'll be thrilled."