“Judge Jerry” has added some “Jerry Springer Show”-type elements for Season 3 — sans the chair-throwing, fisticuffs or hair-pulling.
“Last season all the cases were done remotely where I was in the courtroom in Stamford [Ct.] and the plaintiffs and defendants were where they were in the U.S. — there was no live audience, so it was somewhat stilted,” said Springer, 77, alluding to COVID protocols. “I can’t help making jokes every once in a while … not very funny jokes … and last year I had a laugh button my grandson gave to me and the courtroom was empty, so when I said something I thought was funny I would push the button.
“All of the sudden we have everyone back in the courtroom with a live audience … and so we picked some crazier cases. No one is going to physically fight, obviously — it’s a courtroom — but the issues are often similar to what the old show used to be.”
“The Jerry Springer Show,” which aired from 1991-2018, set the bar for tawdry daytime entertainment; guests frequently brawled on stage or threw furniture at each other; it even had its own on-camera security team who got into the action, including Steve Wilkos, a Marine and ex-Chicago cop who’s had his own daytime show since 2007.
(“The Jerry Springer Show” still airs in reruns.)
“The cases [this season] are a little crazier,” Springer said. “Our producers scan the country for all cases filed before they look for cases that are a little bit over-the-top. When you combine that with a live audience and the plaintiffs and defendants in the courtroom, there’s a whole new vibe to the show. It’s like night and day.”
One new “Judge Jerry” case with “Springer”-type overtones has a mime suing a clown. “You’re saying, ‘How?’” Springer said. “They were in a show together and there were some legal issues. The mime never stepped out of character, so when I was asking him questions he was miming his answers. But I still have to rule — it was a legit lawsuit.
“Another case, this was unbelievable, a guy’s next door neighbor invited him over for a barbecue. The neighbor had a dog, so the guy went over, the plaintiff, and he was having some barbecued chicken and went over to play with the dog. The owner said, ‘Don’t disturb him while he’s eating from his bowl’ but the guy said, ‘Don’t worry, I got it.’ Sure enough the dog bit his pinky off; they rushed him to the ER and his pinky was amputated.”
But the story doesn’t end there.
“Now, two months later, he’s over at his friend’s house again, having a couple of beers, and the dog is there and he starts playing with the dog,” Springer said. “The guy said, ‘Haven’t your learned your lesson?’ … well, the dog bit his other pinky off. You say, ‘This can’t be true’ but the guy showed up [at ‘Judge Jerry’] with no pinkies and we have video of it happening — the police report, the hospital report — and his son testified against him. He said, ‘I love you, Dad, but I was at the barbecue and he told you not to play with the dog.’ I had to dismiss the case.”
The sometimes outlandish court cases is as far a “Judge Jerry” will go vis-a-vis “The Jerry Springer Show,” Springer said.
“It’s a court and my decisions are legally binding, so we can’t screw around,” he said. “But even on the old show, those were real people with real circumstances who brought whatever was going in their real lives to the studio. Now, we’re just seeing these real-life situations where people sometimes file lawsuits.
“Besides, I always thought they gave me a judge show because they thought I couldn’t throw a bench,” he said. “This is where I hit the laugh button.”
“Judge Jerry” airs 11 a.m. weekdays on WPIX/Ch. 11.