Springer staying put—for now


Although the headlines are less frequent and the ratings down from their peak, The Jerry Springer Show
has started its 11th season, and its host says he isn't going anywhere else—yet.

And the former mayor of Cincinnati and longtime political reporter says he's not changing his show in the wake of Sept. 11.

So far this season, the Chicago-based talk show, which became a worldwide phenomenon in the late '90s because of its picaresque guests and frequent fights, has averaged a 2.7 in the national weekly ratings. That's off 60% from the show's high, according to Nielsen Media Research, though the show is still the third-highest-rated talk show.

Last season, producer Studios USA added the Springer Cam, a new set, and music to spice up the show, but, for 2001-02, he says, there is no tampering—just more of the same.

After Sept. 11, he "thought about" about changing the show but quickly changed his mind. "We are so much a circus that it doesn't relate to anything else going on in the world, and to even treat anything differently would almost be disrespectful," says Springer, whose show is seen in more than 180 markets worldwide. "If all of a sudden I had a serious show, everyone would be scratching their heads saying when are the transvestites going to come over and admit that bin Laden has panties under his whatever."

"Serious" talk shows have it tougher in the wake of Sept. 11, he says: "How do they talk about what's in someone's closet or what to wear?" Studios USA executives say they will keep distributing the show as long as Springer wants to keep hosting it, but they declined to give details on the length of his contract.

Three years ago, Democratic leaders in his home state of Ohio attempted to get Springer to run for the Senate, but, because of contractual obligations to the show, he declined. He failed in his one attempt to run for governor of Ohio after his stint as Cincinnati's mayor, but he hasn't ruled out politics in the future. "If I were going to do something in politics again," he says, "it would probably be in Ohio again."