Jerry Springer Defends His Talk Show Guests, Praises Sarah Palin
By Marc Schneider Posted May 21st 2010 11:00AM
You've heard the spiel about Jerry Springer. British-born lawyer becomes mayor of Cincinnati, loses a bid for Ohio governor amid scandal, excels at a job anchoring the local news and eventually starts hosting his own talk program that becomes what TV Guide dubbed "the worst TV show ever." And that's just the appetizer. Springer, 66, made a sympathetic turn on 'Dancing With the Stars,' then came 'America's Got Talent,' a short stage run in 'Chicago,' and now his very own hit game show on GSN, 'Baggage.' In a gab session with PopEater's resident political junkie, the liberal Springer warned against looking down on his oft-abhorrent talk show guests and gave his unvarnished opinion of fellow politician-turned-TV star Sarah Palin. Will she run in '12? You betcha!
You're signed up to do 'Springer' through 2012. Will that be the end of the line?
It's been 19 years and I have no plans to stop. I'm not saying there won't be a day when I say 'enough.' It's hard to step away. It's fun. It's just two days a week. And I just enjoy meeting all kinds of people. Every job I have has been just meeting regular people. Whether it was being a lawyer or being in politics or journalism or having a talk show. I'm always just talking to regular people. I really enjoy that.
You're known to poke fun at certain types of people (freaks, rednecks, etc.) on your show. Has anyone approached you with hurt feelings?
Nah. We're just joking. If anyone comes on the show, they know they are coming on a circus. And the truth of the matter is, I really like these people. I mean, every once in a while there is someone, of course, you're not going to agree with. Neo-Nazis for example. But generally these are nice people. And the truth is, we are not better than the people who are on the show. And you know people watch and say, "I feel good about my life. I'm happy that's not me." But the truth is we're all the same. Some of us just dress better. Some of us have more money. Or some of us had better luck in the pool of parents. And sometimes we went to better schools and learned to speak better. But the behavior -- all you have to do is look at any newspaper on any day, of all the famous people involved in all kinds of things. How can we say for a second, you know. If you just look at the hearings we've had in Congress lately. Are those people morally superior to the people on my show? I would hardly think so.
And if you're on C-Span, you don't get bleeped for bad words.
Really it's total hypocrisy to believe that the people on my show are of a lower caliber. No, people in public tend to be politer, that's true. But are they morally superior? Are they better human beings? No, I think we all have flaws.
You just seem to attract the types of people that are easily riled.
Well, they find us. You know we don't recruit. You can't recruit someone to be on our show. How would that phone call go? We get thousands of calls a week from people who want to be on the show. And as long as their stories are outrageous. Those are the rules that are handed down to us. We're only allowed to have outrageous guests or people involved in outlandish situations. If you call us with a warm uplifting story, we're not allowed to run it. I mean, those are the rules and so, you know, once in a while we fight them but we always lose. It's just not allowed.
So I wanted to chat about someone you have a little in common with: Sarah Palin. She's also a former lawmaker who pivoted to television. Could she hack it with her own talk show?
Well, she's incredibly charismatic. Her politics are different than mine. But I don't belittle her. She represents a significant segment of America. It might not be the majority, but certainly a significant segment of America that lives her lifestyle and believes as she does. And therefore, I can disagree with her without making fun of her. And for those of us who are more liberal, we step on dangerous ground when we try to belittle her, or belittle her fundamentalism, or religion or stuff like that, saying you know she is backwoods or stuff like that. That is how liberals come across as elitists or snobs.
Palin is viewed as a woman of the people; easy to relate to.
She's obviously got something going. Just look at the reaction! It wasn't just her 15 minutes of fame. It's lasted. She touches a nerve for people who resent being looked down upon. And there is a significant segment of America that feels it is being looked down upon. I think that's dangerous. It's where people who are liberal can get into trouble. So, I respect her. I disagree with her. But I have nothing bad to say about her. And I am sure anything she does in the media will be successful. She's got that "whatever that is" that makes you pay attention.
As a keen observer of the media and politics, does it seem she's gearing up for a 2012 run?
I think it would be naive to believe she wasn't thinking about running for president. She'll read the tea leaves and figure it out and figure whether she can win the GOP nomination. Winning the general will be tougher. But you know, who knows? Ten years ago, who would have said that we would have an African American in the White House? World events happen, things come to pass. Is it possible? Sure. Does she think about it? Of course she does. I can't imagine she doesn't.
Do you think about it? I know you did about 6, 8 years ago in the Ohio Senate race ...
I think about it. But you know, I'm getting older. And when I do think about it, I realize that when I have seniority, I would be about 85. So it would be like, what good could I do? You know if I was 20 years younger, I would do it in a heart beat. But I'm not -- I'm 66. Is it too old to be in office? No. But to have any real impact? Well, maybe. Because you could sit in the Senate, and in the time when you are in a position to do anything other than to cast your one vote, I would be in my 80s.
It's a frustrating and frankly grim place to work, the Senate.
Yes it is. And yet, we can't let that be the reason to keep good people out. I know it's lousy there, but doesn't that mean we have to get good people in? So do I think about it? Yeah. Is it likely? It's not likely. Is it out of the question? No, it's not out of the question, but it's not likely.
Your game show ('Baggage') has really lifted off.
Actually, it's really fun. Sometimes you do shows and it's just a paycheck. This is actually very enjoyable, I must say.
What drew you to it?
It actually came out of nowhere. Basically, I was just offered the job. They sent me a treatment, and I loved it immediately. My initial thought was, "I wish I would have thought of that." It's a great concept. Normally you don't find out about the baggage of the person you're dating until several months, maybe years, into the relationship. And here it is kind of upfront. Here, you have this show with all these beautiful, desirable people. And then during the course of the show, their baggage is revealed, like personality flaws or situations they've been in. What's neat about it is that everyone can relate to it. So it's fun. I'm sure sometime it will become a board game.
I take it's pretty easy to find willing participants. One episode involved a 33-year-old virgin and he didn't even get a date.
At least the streak hasn't been broken. [Watch That Episode Below]
The show ends when either a person does or doesn't accept the baggage. But they don't necessarily have to go on a date, right?
I think, from what I see backstage afterwords, it looks like they really do go out on dates. Do some of them not? Perhaps. But it looks to me like they really intend to go out.
Could there ever be a 'Celebrity Baggage'?
I don't know if that would work. A star's baggage is already in the headlines. You could pick the obvious people like Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears. But it's in the headlines, so you know the moment they came out what the issues are. It would be the first thing you think about because of all of the baggage you already see. But you couldn't make much of a game of it. Who would make great guests? Any of them. Any famous people would. But until you know the real secrets, you wouldn't know.
You seem like you're always hosting different shows. Is there anything else in the works?
This year it looks like my show and 'Baggage.' And I'll probably be doing another live version of 'America's Got Talent,' where I take it to Vegas for a month. I think now they're talking about a national tour where I would again take the 10 finalists from the coming season and travel around the country for the year or for six or seven months and end up in Vegas. So between those three shows, 'America's Got Talent' and 'Baggage' and my show, in terms of show business, that's pretty much it.
The Jerry Springer-hosted 'Baggage' airs nightly at 6:30 PM ET on GSN.
Jerry Springer Snapshots
Jerry Springer shows off some cotton candy while at the 'America's Got Talent Live' after-party at Planet Hollywood Casino Resort on October 14 in Las Vegas. Check Out More Pics of Jer-ry, Jer-ry >>
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