A Brief Chat with Jerry Springer
Bullz-Eye: Hey, Jerry.
Jerry Springer: Hi, Will.
BE: So, first “Dancing with the Stars,” now a variety show. Have the accusations started to fly that you’re becoming respectable?
JS: (chuckles) That’s an unfair accusation. No, no one ever accused me of being respectable. Yeah, I guess “Dancing” was kind of interesting because, even though I’ve been on television in one capacity or other for 35 years, it was the first time I was ever on television as myself. Y’know, I always had a role. Like, I was either Cincinnati’s mayor, or I was the news anchor, or I was a talk show host. But I always had a role to play. And “Dancing with the Stars” was really the first time I was ever on a show just as me. And, therefore, I think that people who might’ve thought they knew me perhaps realized that they didn’t, and I think that’s why there was such an impact with that show. It was the unexpected, the missed expectation of who I was.
BE: Was it an intimidating prospect for you to step into Regis Philbin’s shoes as the host of the show?
JS: Well, y’know, Regis is the best there ever was at this business, so I’m not even going to pretend that I can fill his shoes. It would be insulting to him and foolish of me. I’m gonna be what I can be as best as I can be, but it’s gonna be me, not Regis, and I would never pretend to have his competence.
BE: Not to give too much away, but can you talk about a few of your favorite acts that you’ve seen thus far?
"All these other opportunities I've had in life wouldn't have come to me had I not been doing ("The Jerry Springer Show"), so I’m very grateful for that…but I don’t pretend that show is anything more than it is, which is just silliness." JS: Um, yeah, I mean, there are a couple of groups that…singing groups that are really good, that are funny and good. There’s also some totally crazy acts that are weird but good. And I’m involved in one magic act, and I don’t know how the guy did it. (laughs) You know, here I am in the middle of it all, and I say, “How did I get here?” So, yeah, I really feel like I’m Ed Sullivan. I’m bringing out these acts, and you go from this great singer to, all of a sudden, a guy juggling plates. There are animal acts and fire acts, and I don’t know that there’s anything like it on television now. It used to be a common form of television, the variety show. But that’s what this is. It’s a variety show.
BE: Do you have any thoughts as to when your own show will finally end, or do you still enjoy doing it?
JS: Oh, it’s fun to do. I have no intentions of ending it, unless it was to be for health or something. People enjoy it – it’s been on for 17 years – and there’s no particular reason to stop it. It doesn’t really take a lot of time, and it permits me to do these other things. And let’s face it: all these other opportunities I’ve had in life wouldn’t have come to me had I not been doing the show, so I’m very grateful for that. But I don’t pretend that show is anything more than it is, which is just silliness.
BE: Since you were born in the UK, what did you think when the UK retaliated by producing “Jerry Springer: The Opera?”
JS: (ominously) Well, they haven’t heard the last of me! (laughs) Well, it’s coming to America now! In fact, I think it opened in Chicago.
BE: I hear they’re also going to be staging it in Washington, D.C., as well.
JS: (sarcastically) Oh, great. But, yeah, it did very well in England. It won those Olivier Awards, which is kind of like our Tony. Yeah, it did good. I think it could be tough for America, because the language is pretty rough, but, y’know, they’ll do it, and people will either like it or not. I wish it were about someone else. I mean, I enjoyed it, but I have no-one to share the experience with, because there are no living people who’ve had operas written about them. You know, I can’t call Figaro and say, “Hey, how’re you doing, what did you think?” Or Carmen. So I don’t know who to talk to about what’s it like to have an opera written about you!
BE: And, lastly, what do you think about Steve scoring his own talk-show gig?
JS: Well, we’ve been pushing hard for that, so I’m hopeful that this really works out. I’m one of the producers of it. And I think he’ll do great! In many cities, he’ll be leading in to me, and some cities he’ll be right after my show, but, obviously, we’ve got our fingers crossed that it works, and I think he’ll do very well!
BE: OK. Thanks very much!