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Jerry Springer the 'Ringmaster' of his domain

Web posted on:
Wednesday, November 18, 1998 4:49:27 PM EST

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- He has been a city councilman, a mayor, a local TV anchor and one of the country's most outrageous talk show hosts. Now Jerry Springer adds two more jobs to his resume: Author and movie star.

Oddly, both his book and his movie share the same title -- "Ringmaster." But though they're named the same, their focus is different. With the nonfiction book, Springer takes readers into "the circus that is his life."

Theatrical preview of "Jerry Springer: Ringmaster"
Windows Media: 28k or 56k

Clip: "Fight breaks out on stage"
Video clip: 1.9Mb QuickTime

The movie, on the other hand, creates a fictional trailer-trash scenario and sends its participants off to "The Jerry Show," hosted by -- who else? -- Jerry Springer, in a role remarkably like the one he already plays every day.

Springer talked to CNN Showbiz Today's Jim Moret about the book, the movie, and the TV show.

MORET: You've got a new book out called "Ringmaster." Not to confuse issues, you have a new film out called "The Ringmaster," same title completely different subject matter, really, when you think about it. One is not based on the other.

Movie resembles show

SPRINGER: Right. Well, I can only think of one title a year (laughs) so "Ringmaster" was what I -- the book is autobiographical. The book is about me and the show, how I got to have the show, the crazy stuff that goes on with it. So the book is, as I said, autobiographical.

The movie is just a comedy. It's a comedy about these two dysfunctional families that are desperately trying to get on this crazy talk show, and I happen to be the host for the talk show.

MORET: The talk show does resemble your own show.


If Jerry Springer could host a CNN show, which would you pick?

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SPRINGER: Absolutely. And so it wasn't a great stretch for me, but it was fun because it really was my first major part in a movie.

MORET: Now in the film, you are shown in various scenes, for example, going to a restaurant, and women will expose themselves to you. They will act as if they know you intimately, as if you're a friend, a confidante. Does that really happen in life?

SPRINGER: Yes, but I don't think it just happens to me. I think people treat people on television a lot differently than they treat, for example, movie stars. With movie stars, there's a distance. There's, you know, "Oh, there's this famous star," and you go crazy inside, but you give them their space.

With television, since you're in their homes every day and my show two hours a day every day, year after year after year, there's a familiarity that comes about. And also, since I'm playing myself on television, it's me, Jerry Springer, it's not me playing a role. Therefore, people do feel as if they know me, as they do other people on television.

So, yes, it's a very -- I mean, part of it's very nice. I mean, people are just so friendly all the time, but there is that familiarity, the, "Hey, Jerry, how you doing?" It's never Mr. Springer. It's never whatever -- "Jerry, love you man, love you." It's a lot of this stuff.

Springer's book with the same title

'These are everyday people'

MORET: But if you watch the film, for example, it brings up an interesting point. What we're seeing, as bizarre as it may appear, that these are things that many more people have to deal with than we would otherwise expect.

SPRINGER: Yes, absolutely. The truth is these are everyday people. They are everyday people caught in an outrageous situation, but they are our neighbors. They live in our neighborhoods, and sometimes they are us; they're in our own families.

MORET: Are you surprised at what the show has become?

SPRINGER: I'm certainly surprised that it has become so popular.

MORET: Are you tired of the criticism that ...

SPRINGER: No, I'm used to it. I mean, you know, let's face it: the show deserves critics. I mean, it's a crazy -- it's a stupid show on television. I know that. But it's also very entertaining. I know it's popular. But I also know there's some people that hate it, hate it.

I'm doing a show about outrageousness. That's what I'm hired to do. If I do a show about outrageousness, I can't do serious subjects. I can't do normal behavior. It doesn't belong on our show. If someone calls our show with a warm, uplifting story, we send them to another show. I'm not saying they shouldn't be on television, but they shouldn't be on our show. Our show is about craziness. So to watch our show and then say, "Gee, those people are crazy," or, "They're involved in a crazy situation," of course, they are. That's why they're on the show. You know, so ...

MORET: Do you enjoy your life now?

SPRINGER: I am having the time of my life. I mean, being mayor of Cincinnati was the most challenging job I ever had, but this is the most fun. I mean, I get paid for going to camp. I'm loving it. It's a great life.

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