- Associated Press - Friday, November 11, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - “America’s Got Talent” contestants may be facing an unlikely new judge: shock jock Howard Stern.

Stern was in negotiations to replace the departing Piers Morgan on NBC’s talent show, a person close to the situation said Friday. The person lacked authority to discuss the talks while they were in progress and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Stern, whose show airs on subscription service Sirius XM Radio, is a regular viewer of “America’s Got Talent,” the person said.

An email seeking comment from Stern’s agent in New York was not immediately returned.

It seems an offbeat match to pair the racy, freewheeling Stern with a network show that draws family audiences and features such contestants as angelic-sounding child singer Jackie Evancho. The show has been a summer hit for NBC with as many as 14 million weekly viewers.

In an interview with Stern on Monday, film director Brett Ratner discussed his sexual exploits in graphic language. Ratner stepped down on Tuesday as producer of next year’s Academy Award ceremony after apologizing for using a gay slur at a screening of his new film “Tower Heist.”

Stern, speaking on his show Wednesday, said he’s uncomfortable with the slur but doesn’t think Ratner was gay-bashing. Stern also accused the entertainment industry of hypocrisy, citing as one example the support some in Hollywood have given director Roman Polanski in his decades-old sex crimes case.

Morgan, a British journalist and TV personality, announced this week that he’s leaving “America’s Got Talent” to ease his schedule and focus on his CNN talk show, “Piers Morgan Tonight,” and the upcoming presidential election year.

NBC isn’t facing time pressure in replacing Morgan. Although “America’s Got Talent” producers are already scouting new contestants for next season, the judges aren’t part of filming until about February.

Stern’s talks with “America’s Got Talent” were first reported by The Wall Street Journal, which cited unidentified people familiar with the situation and said Stern would get about $15 million a year to join judges Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne.

NBC is mulling the possibility of moving the talent show to New York to accommodate Stern, who is based in the city.





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