My Week with Jerry Springer

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Jerry Springer
Me and Jerry hanging at the Press Club lunch.

Now that probably would get me on a talk show, right? No, it wasn’t quite that intimate, but I did see tabloid talk-show host Jerry Springer twice this week – and neither time was quite what I expected.

Tuesday night I saw him as the slick lawyer Billy Flynn in a production of “Chicago” at the Fox Theatre. Having not really followed his career, I was rather shocked to hear he was playing the role, but  really when you think about the plot, which involves intrigue, murder and deception, well, he’s seen all that before.  He’s no Richard Gere, who played the role in the movie, but I enjoyed him in the part.

Then today I saw him speak at a luncheon for the Atlanta Press Club, where he surprised us by steering away from the advertised topic of the entertainment industry to talk about – health care reform.

But members of the press are not to be deterred from asking the questions everyone wants to know the answer to, such as “How did your show become what it is today?” That was the most interesting answer, as he said that after being mayor of Cincinnati for 10 years, losing the race for governor and anchoring nightly news with a segment for his own political views, he was asked to do the talk show. Which back then was normal. Then in an effort to attract an audience other than the middle-aged housewives that every other talk show was going for, they decided to go for the younger people.

“The decision was to go young, not crazy,” he said. “But young people are crazy.” He defended the language on the show, which he insists is the same language that a Harvard professor, one of the most educated people in the world, would use if he caught his wife in bed with the next-door neighbor. Not sure I’d argue with that one.

Jerry Springer enjoying his role in "Chicago."
Jerry Springer enjoying his role in “Chicago.”

I also liked the question, “After all your years of hosting the show, what is your best relationship advice.” He said, “Be authentic and be kind.” Now, that’s good advice for anyone.

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