Jerry Springer as Your Honor?
It just might happen. This week brought news that Jerry Springer—the former ringleader of, arguably, daytime television’s wildest hour—is shopping a syndicated judge show featuring himself presiding from the bench. It sounds like Judge Jerry isn’t a sure thing yet, but episodes could start airing in 2019.
Springer as judicial lion isn’t as much of a stretch as it may seem at first blush. After all, Springer graduated from Northwestern University School of Law in 1968 and did a short stint as the mayor of Cincinnati before launching his namesake talk show in 1991. (It went off the air earlier this year.) All of this got us thinking about other daytime TV staples that we’d like to see behind the bench—from a Hollywood back lot, that is. We’ve taken a few liberties here, no J.D. required, and present both the case for and against these judicial nominees.
The Case For: We miss Bob Barker, who hung up his ridiculously skinny microphone and left “The Price Is Right” set back in 2007. (Drew Carey, you are no Bob Barker.) This seems like the perfect opportunity for the 94-year-old to stage a comeback. After all, sitting on the bench is much less physically taxing than spinning that giant, glittery wheel.
The Case Against: As much as this pains us to say, Barker comes with some baggage. More specifically, the accusations in the 1990s that he sexually harassed several of “The Price is Right”’s models, known as “Barker’s Beauties,” and other show employees. The cases settled, but that name alone might be disqualifying.
The Case For: If anyone knows about justice—and injustice—it’s iconic soap star Lucci, who played “All My Children” villain Erica Kane for its entire 41-year run before the show was canceled in 2011. Lucci was famously passed over for a daytime Emmy 18 times before finally snagging the prize in 1999. Justice delayed is justice denied.
The Case Against: Viewers may have a hard time dissociating Lucci from her most famous femme fatale role, in which she is married roughly 10 times (there is disagreement online about the number of valid weddings); seduces plenty of married men; and generally wreaks havoc on the town of Pine Valley.
The Case For: OK, technically Roker is more of a morning TV star rather than a daytime one, having spent the past 22 years delivering the weather on “The Today Show.” But honestly, who doesn’t love Al Roker? He’s the Mr. Congeniality of daytime programming. It’s hard to imagine people yelling and screaming at each other in the Judge Roker’s courtroom.
The Case Against: Roker’s biggest strength is also a potential weakness as far as the typical daytime judge show goes. His courtroom may be remarkably civil, but viewers want a clear resolution. I have a feeling Judge Roker would bend over backward to find compromises so each party leaves court happy. That’s a snooze from a viewer’s standpoint.
The Case For: Obviously no list would be complete without the Queen of Daytime TV. Seriously, why hasn’t Oprah had a judge show yet? (Probably because she doesn’t need the money.) But viewers trust Oprah implicitly, so she wouldn’t need to establish any credibility. Bonus: You never know when she’ll give out free cars.
The Case Against: Oprah has had some lapses in judgement over the years. Remember her boosterism of fraudulent author James Frey? Critics have also taken her to task for promoting pseudoscience in the form of self-help and questionable medical advice. And who knows. Oprah might be too busy running for president in 2020 to tape a judge show.
The Case For: Sure, celebrity chef and cooking show host Legasse may not have the firmest grasp on the law, but he seems to have a lot of fun in whatever he does. We’d love to see him dispensing justice from the bench with his signature catchphrase: “Bam!”
The Case Against: Again, taking the bench is pretty different from presiding over the kitchen. We’re not entirely convinced that Legasse’s culinary expertise will transfer over to the law. But daytime television is pretty snoozy these days so, why not throw caution to the wind? He just might “kick it up a notch!” (See what we did there?)