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LIKE BOOK, `PRIVATE PARTS’ PLAYS FAST, LOOSE WITH FACTS

SHARE LIKE BOOK, `PRIVATE PARTS’ PLAYS FAST, LOOSE WITH FACTS

PRIVATE PARTS - * 1/2 - Howard Stern, Mary MacCormack, Robin Quivers, Fred Norris, Paul Giamatti, Richard Portnow; based on Stern's autobiographical novel of the same name; R (profanity, vulgarity, sex, nudity, drug use, racial epithets, violence); Carmike 12, Creekside and Plaza 5400 Theaters; Century 9 Theaters; Cinemark Sandy Movies 9; Cineplex Odeon Crossroads Mall Cinemas; Gateway 8 Cinemas; Reel Theaters.

From its opening scene, it's obvious that there will be no mistaking the film version of radio "shock-jock" Howard Stern's autobiography "Private Parts" with real life - much like the book itself.

The first tipoff should be the fact that as Stern descends from a ceiling dressed as his "Fartman" persona - re-creating his memorably unfunny appearance at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards show - they've replaced Luke Perry, who introduced him, with John Stamos. (Note to Stamos: You wish you were Luke Perry!)

From there, the film plays fast and loose with the facts (again, much like the book), as it recalls events from his life as he'd like to believe they happened - with him behaving much better, and with his enemies looking ridiculous.

Worse still, it's not even as funny as his tasteless radio and television shows and the whole thing comes off as a love note from Stern to himself. Even the few times he thanks anyone for his success - like his long-suffering wife, Alison, and longtime sidekick Robin Quivers - they seem to be more of an afterthought rather than sincerity.

"Private Parts" attempts, in some part, to tell the story of Stern's rise to fame, beginning with his first glimpse at the radio industry - watching his father (Richard Portnow) produce radio shows during the 1960s. And at first, the stern older Stern disapproves of his son's choice of career, especially given his high-pitched nervous delivery on air at a local college station.

Also while at college, Howard meets Alison (Mary MacCormack), a young student counselor who not only finds his geeky attempts at courtship charming, she even agrees to marry him.

After college, Howard bounces from one station to another (at one point he winds up spinning country music records in Detroit!) until he finds a home in Washington, D.C., where he is paired with newswoman Quivers (who, like Stern, plays herself). Despite their auspicious start, the two actually play off each other and thrive. And his show quickly rises to No. 1 in the local ratings.

His notoriety (for bits like a lesbian "Dating Game") and high ratings take him to New York's WNBC, where station managers attempt to rein him in by firing Quivers and by requiring him to submit scripts. Of course, they're unsuccessful and the show goes to No. 1 in New York as well.

What would have made the film, which ends abruptly with his New York triumph a dozen years ago, much more interesting would have been to include information about Stern's battles with the Federal Communications Commission or looking into what happens when Stern's act grows old.

Even better would have been telling the story from either Quivers or his wife's point of view rather than relying Stern's rosy perceptions. Instead, both women are treated more as support characters rather than his equals - in fact, at one point, he even jokes about the couple's first child, which his wife miscarried.

Ultimately, all what we get is a movie version of Stern's show, down to him getting a massage from a nude blue-movie star. That's too bad, because director Betty Thomas ("The Brady Bunch Movie") coaxes some actual acting out of him at times, and good performances from both women.

Almost as bad as the biased slant to the situations are the logical inconsistencies - we're supposed to believe that so many big events in Stern's life, such as him landing the New York job and his wife getting pregnant after the miscarriage, happened on the same day!

"Private Parts" is rated R for profanity and vulgar gags and references, some sex and nudity, drug use, a few racial epithets and some slapstick violence.