Jerry Springer, 70, has been a household name since his rowdy talk show first shocked the world back in 1991. The presenter talks to Carrie Gregory about why The Jerry Springer Show has been so successful, his craziest guest, and how, even after his latest milestone birthday, he still has no plans to slow down
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE JERRY SPRINGER SHOW TO SOMEONE WHO HADN’T SEEN IT?
It’s a circus. It’s a show about outrageous, dysfunctional, inappropriate behaviour. In other words, if you would call us with a warm uplifting story, under the contract we’re not allowed to run it - we’re only allowed to do behaviour that’s dysfunctional. Every day when I go in, I’m not allowed to know what the show’s about, even when the show starts.
THE SHOW’S BEEN GOING STRONG FOR OVER 20 YEARS NOW - WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE KEY TO ITS SUCCESS?
It’s so different to other things you see on television. You can’t be a grown-up in today’s world and be surprised by anything that happens anymore.
IS THERE ONE PARTICULAR GUEST WHO’S ALWAYS STUCK IN YOUR MIND?
The craziest was the guy who married his horse. It was pretty hard to forget that, and we did a follow-up show because the horse left him.
YOU OBVIOUSLY LOVE PRESENTING THE SHOW - HAS ANYTHING EVER TEMPTED YOU TO LEAVE?
No, but I do other shows. I hosted America’s Got Talent, I did Dancing With The Stars and then I did other things - for example I was here in Britain as well as on Broadway, doing the musical Chicago. Now I’m doing an international tour of The Price is Right in the States. HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN JERRY SPRINGER: THE OPERA WAS FIRST MENTIONED?
My mother would have been proud! I had nothing to do with it though, so I can’t take any credit, it’s about me but I didn’t write it or produce it - I just heard about it. YOU’VE ENJOYED A VARIED CAREER, BUT IS THERE ANYTHING YOU’D DO DIFFERENTLY IF YOU COULD START OVER?
No. I’m 70 now and if God came to me and said, ‘hey, I’m going to give you another life, and you have a choice to live this one again or live another one’, I’d sign on for this one again in a heartbeat. Who wouldn’t? I’ve been the luckiest person who ever lived. I’ve had all these great jobs and a great family. It’s just the perfect life - I can’t believe it, it’s pure luck and I’m very appreciative.
IT’S A BIG YEAR FOR YOU - YOU’VE TURNED 70 - ANY PLANS TO SLOW DOWN...?
I’ve let NBC know I’ll be stopping when I’m 104 because I want to enjoy my retirement! God willing, as long as I’m still healthy, I want to keep working. My wife probably wouldn’t want me to stop either because I’d be at home every day!
::Jerry Springer, weeknights at 9pm on CBS Drama.