Despite his model girlfriend, bags of money and Hamptons estate, it's got to be a depressing Memorial Day Weekend for Howard Stern. Forgotten and indeed hiding out amid the First Amendment battles fought over Imus, Opie & Anthony and other radio jocks whose slide into offensiveness he'd greased in his glory days, he loses his schlubadub radio sidekick, and like Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, it takes days, and possibly weeks, for word to spread across the country.
And the very fact that the obese heroin-addicted and out-of-control Artie Lange would leave his six-year steady gig as comic foil because of guest role on a little-watched (though tres cool) Fx series, reveals how irrelevant the once-powerful Stern has become since moving his morning show to the subscribers-only Sirius satellite system-- while betraying Stern's sadistic complicity in Lange's decline and certain demise.
You probably didn't hear about it, but Artie Lange announced on Thursday that he's quitting the Stern show because he has a recurring role on Denis Leary's Rescue Me and a potential maybe possibly talk show on Fox.
In his years on the Stern show, Artie has battled heroin addiction, ballooned to more than three hundred pounds and kept up a grueling stand-up comedy schedule-- all to the amusement and encouragement of his boss, who's used Artie's troubles as comic and soap opera fodder. Artie says a doctor recently told him that if he doesn't change his lifestyle, Tabloid Baby's prediction of his Farley-Belushi-Anna Nicole-style death is imminent.
"I just feel burned out," Artie said. "Nothing is set in stone, but it's something I'm seriously thinking about. The schedule is destroying me. I love the show, and I love the people. I'm just really concerned about my health.
"I have to find a happy balance . . . none of this is going to be worth it if I drop dead at a Best Western in Milwaukee."
Even so, this incredible diss by a drunken comedian whose career, if not his life, was saved by Stern, is the latest step on the inevitable return of Stern's show --in some form--to free radio (not even Stern's "confession" this week that he'd considered suicide and had put one of his much-publicized guns in his mouth got him into the headlines).
Meanwhile, Howard has even more to worry about... as an amazing phenomenon is occurring on several West Coast stations on which monotonal lunkhead Adam Carolla has inherited-- and maintained (thanks to his business partner Jimmy Kimmel's consulting role with the station group)-- Stern's former morning slot. Forced to take on the volatile Seventies leftover and reality TV star Danny Bonaduce as a third wheel, Carolla has seen Bonaduce take over the show in the past month, as Bonaduce's revelations and confessions regarding his failed marriage have pushed the show to Sternian levels of honesty and compelling listenability. Bonaduce has interrupted Carolla's rants, injects his personal stories into every discussion and celebrity interview, and even angrily challenged token female Theresa Strasser to reveal more of her feelings about her own love life. Carolla reacted last week by stacking the show with comedian guests like the surprisingly obnoxious David Alan Grier to sideline Bonaduce as often as possible.
But with Strasser playing up the good-girl-bad-boy attraction to Bonaduce and Carolla finding his fratjerk humour increasingly beside the point alongside Bonaduce's in-your-face realness, the "Ace" is getting aced out of his own show.
Strange but true and you read it here first: Danny Bonaduce is on the verge of becoming the new Howard Stern.