Formerly the Democratic Mayor of Cincinnati, most people know him for his television show The Jerry Springer Show, about to enter its 22nd season. The show has been such a cultural icon, Jerry Springer: The Opera was based on the show. In addition to continuing to host The Jerry Springer Show, Jerry also hosts Baggage on the Game Show Network, which premiered in 2010. Coming in Fall of 2012 Baggage will be viewable everywhere, not just on GSN, as it has been picked up in syndication.
Hosting and politics aren't all he's done; Jerry also has quite a number of acting roles under his belt including The X-Files, Days of our Lives, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Ringmaster, and many, many others!
Jerry talked to us about his career and life in Chicago.
So, how did you get into politics? Was it something you were always interested in or something that developed later?
Politics was always a large part of my life. My parents were Holocaust survivors and every evening at dinner we discussed what we learned in school and current events. What was happening in the world was always a part of my life and going into politics was a natural progression. My first job out of college was working for Senator Robert Kennedy’s Presidential Campaign.
Why didn't you continue in politics and how did you transition from politics into entertainment?
After being the Mayor of Cincinnati, I ran for Governor of the state of Ohio. After losing that race I was hired by the NBC affiliate to anchor their evening news in Cincinnati. I wound up doing the news for the next ten years. Because we were pretty dominant in the ratings, the company that owned the station where I did the news also owned talk shows - Sally Jesse Raphael and the Phil Donahue Show. The CEO took me to lunch and told me they were starting a new show and I would be the host. I wanted to continue doing the news, so for the first two years they let me do both.
What's the story behind The Jerry Springer Show? It originally started as a politically-oriented talk show, right? How did it evolve into what it's known for now?
The Jerry Springer Show premiered in September of 1991. The original idea was to do important issues and have a serious, topical show. But there were so many talk shows at that time, about 20, we were lost in the crowd, so we decided to “go young.” That meant having young people on the stage, young people in the audience, and young subject matter. Well, young people are much more open about their lives. They’re much wilder, and that’s when the show started to go crazy. Now we only do outrageous stories. If you call us with a nice uplifting story, we have to refer you to another talk show.
How did Jerry Springer: The Opera come about? What was your reaction and how was the show received?
Jerry Springer: The Opera is brilliant. But I have to say, I had absolutely nothing to do with it and I was never consulted about it. It won the Laurence Olivier Award in the UK, which is comparable to our Tony Award for Best Musical. As for my reaction to it all... it would have made my mother proud. She would have said “Gerald, you’ve got culture. You’re an Opera.”
Your current project is the show Baggage, right? Tell us a bit about the show. What can someone expect when they tune in for the first time?
Actually, I am just about to begin taping the 22nd Season of The Jerry Springer Show AND my game show, Baggage, will air in syndication beginning September of this year.
I love this show! I wish I would have thought of it; a great idea. It’s your traditional dating show where a guy comes out and has to choose among three beautiful women. But the twist is that during the course of the show each of the contestants has to reveal three items of “baggage,” small, medium and large. Despite their baggage, he still has to choose one and then after choosing her, he has to reveal his baggage. She can then decide to accept the date or say ‘you’ve got too much baggage’ and kick him to the curb.
What's your favorite part of working on Baggage?
I have always liked interacting with regular people and this show is very lighthearted and amusing. The staff, crew and people competing make it like a big party.
Something we don't hear much about is your appearance on The X-Files in "The Post-Modern Prometheus." How did you end up on X-Files, and was it as fun of an episode to shoot as it looked?
It was fun being part of that iconic show. It was shot in Vancouver back in 1997. The best part about it was working with the series creator and director, Chris Carter and the brilliant David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. I heard later that that episode won an Emmy... not because of me, of course.
You've done a lot of different things throughout your career. What has been the most rewarding and why?
Being mayor of Cincinnati was the most fulfilling. It allowed me to actually do some good. It was also the hardest job I have ever had because you make decisions every day that are going to have impact on people’s lives.
What's next for you?
I have been blessed with this great life, family and health. I have no idea what is next but I am looking into the possibility of KING.