Howard Stern has inked a deal to return as a judge on NBC‘s America’s Got Talent. The shock jock originally joined the reality series last season succeeding Piers Morgan with a one-year pact and had expressed ambivalence about coming back. Stern also got in hot water in August over his bashing of NBC late-night host Jay Leno. “Howard Stern’s towering presence and opinions on last season’s show as a new judge made a dramatic impact and added a sharper edge to the fascinating developments on stage,” said NBC’s head of alternative programming Paul Telegdy. “We know that Howard believes in America’s Got Talent — which remains America’s top-rated summer series — and that dedication comes across in a genuine way to our viewers who share his passion about our amazing talent competition.” With Stern staying put, NBC is faced with filling one vacant seat on the judging panel, that of Sharon Osbourne.
Stern commanded a big salary (rumored to be $15 million) and made Talent move production from Los Angeles to New Jersey to accommodate his day job as a radio talk show host. He didn’t bring a ratings boost to the veteran realty series, but this past summer’s edition still finished as the the No. 1 summer broadcast series in adults 18-49 and total viewers. The Monday edition of Talent averaged a 3.4/10 in adults 18-49 and 11.1 million viewers overall, the Tuesday telecast earned a 3.4/10 in 18-49 and 11.7 million viewers and the Wednesday edition delivered a 2.9/8 in 18-49 and 10.4 million viewers, according to Nielsen. America’s Got Talent is produced by FremantleMedia North America and Simon Cowell’s SYCO Television. Simon Cowell, Jason Raff, Sam Donnelly and Trish Kinane are the executive producers.