The King of All Media extends his empire tonight, when Howard Stern goes into the movie business with his own film festival.

Among the highlights a lucky midtown audience will see is a documentary about an inspired practical joke a listener played on one of Stern's more gullible staffers and a touching fantasy about what might have happened if Stern had met sidekicks Robin Quivers and Fred Norris when they were kids.

"Obviously, it's going to draw more attention to Stern," says film critic Richard Roeper, who's a judge on the panel that will award one of nine finalists (out of 2,000 entries) a $25,000 prize. But Roeper doesn't see the festival as a stunt.

"We've seen more of Howard in the news in the last six to eight months than at anytime, except maybe going back to [Stern's own movie] 'Private Parts.' "

Aspiring filmmakers, he says, are even likely to get more mainstream exposure here than at the Sundance Film Festival.