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Howard Stern back in spotlight after Gabourey Sidibe attack

March 11, 2010 |  3:24 pm

This might be the most attention Howard Stern has gotten for himself since leaving terrestrial radio.

On Monday, the Sirius/XM shock jock ran afoul of the size-acceptance trend by unloading on Gabourey Sidibe, the Oscar-nominated actress in "Precious."

During a lengthy riff on the Academy Awards telecast, Stern -- rumored to be in the running to replace Simon Cowell on "American Idol" -- called Sidibe "the most enormous fat black chick I've ever seen" and joked that it looked as if she took up two chairs at the ceremony. He went on to dismiss her career prospects: "It's just ludicrous ... She's never gonna be in another movie." And he added some advice: "Go get yourself thin -- you're gonna die in, like, three years." Stern's sidekick, Robin Quivers, joined in the attack.

Since the outburst, Sidibe has been defended by everyone from her mother to Perez Hilton. Zennie Abraham, a blogger for the San Francisco Chronicle, called Stern a racist. On "The View," Whoopi Goldberg pointed out that Sidibe has been cast in new films and TV shows (including a role on Showtime's upcoming series "The Big C") and then noted that male actors such as John Belushi, John Candy and Chris Farley were also overweight. "I don't recall anyone saying they would not have careers," Goldberg said. (Through her manager, Sidibe could not be reached for comment.)

There is no way of knowing, of course, whether Stern deliberately threw down the Sidibe challenge just to stir up some controversy for his talk show, which generates nowhere near the attention it did when it was syndicated on local radio stations. But commenting (brutally) on the taboo issues of weight, gender and race during one five-minute rant, Stern seems to have rekindled his legendary ability to get under people's skin and make headlines. King of all media, indeed.

-- Scott Collins

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