Howard Stern Hugs, Kisses Matt Lauer on "Today"

The shock jock defended his intentions as an "America's Got Talent" judge just before jumping into Matt Lauer's lap

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Howard Stern won't hold back his opinions when he debuts as a judge on Season 7 of NBC's "America's Got Talent." Stern replaces Piers Morgan while fellow judges Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel return. "America's Got Talent" premieres May 14 on NBC at 8/7c.

    America's got bromance!

    Howard Stern capped a "Today" interview Thursday by plopping himself in Matt Lauer's lap and planting a wet one on the NBC host.

    "Come over hear you dog you. Come on baby," Stern said after noting the pair's friendship.

    "We sit at my house, we drink wine and we evaluate the 'Today' show," he'd said. "We're in competition with 'Good Morning America.' We have to win."

    Earlier in the interview, Stern defended his controversial pick as a judge on "America's Got Talent," insisting that the stint wasn't a stunt.

    Stern has generated plenty of controversy over his selection for the NBC talent competition, whose new season starts Monday. But the shock jock said he has no intention of interfering with AGT's success or tainting it with his trademark vulgarity.

    "I am a serious judge on 'America's Got Talent.' I watch the show; I'm a fan of the show. I'm not going on the show to disrupt the beauty of 'America's Got Talent,' 'cause I love the show. I merely wanted to go on and be a very serious judge," he told Lauer.

    It's gone well, Stern added.

    "It turns out I'm the judge everybody agrees with," he said. "When you sit at home and watch 'America's Got Talent' this season, you'll say, 'Wow, Howard is saying what I'm thinking.'"

    Stern said that for him, being a good judge involved toeing a fine line between compassion and brutal honesty — something he said rival talent competitions failed at.

    "I watch 'American Idol' sometimes, and those three judges, they don't have a word of criticism, and I think that's selfish. I think you owe it to the contestants to offer criticism," he said.

    "I'm a compassionate person," he clarified. "But there's also honesty. I'm an honest judge, and that's what I think America needs. No more of this kind of, 'Oh, I think everyone's wonderful.' Everyone can't be wonderful."

    Not that Stern didn't understand the furor from groups like the Parents Television Council, which has issued a flurry of statements decrying the shock jock's casting and has called for a boycott.

    "What a crazy idea to put me on a family show! Somebody at NBC should be fired for that," he joked.

    As for the Parents Television Council?

    "NBC should pay them millions of dollars. The more they keep issuing these statements, it makes me seem more interesting and more controversial," Stern said.

    During the interview, Stern also touched on his litigation with Sirius XM Radio. He said he planned to stick with satellite radio but would appeal a judge's decision last month to throw out his suit claiming he was owed millions in stock.

    The new season of "America's Got Talent" premieres Monday, May 14, at 8/7c.

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