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Move over, Your Honors... you're not the only judges in TV land anymore

Judge TV: Viewers tuning in to host of new courtroom programs

Web posted on: Wednesday, September 02, 1998 3:52:47 PM

From Correspondent Bill Tush

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Perhaps it's fallout from an O.J.-obsessed America, when every station carried the Simpson courtroom proceedings live. Or maybe it's indicative of America's desire to cut down on crime.

Whatever the reason, there's a new breed of show gaining popularity on television airwaves -- judge TV.

From the "People's Court," which is now presided over by former New York Mayor Ed Koch (instead of the grandfatherly Judge Wapner), to "Judge Judy," televised criminals don't stand a chance.

New boys on the bench: Judge Mills Lane (left) and Judge Joe Brown

'I don't leave the problem'

With all the competition, the "stars" of these shows are now vying for an original angle to attract viewers.

For instance, Judge Joe Brown claims he is the only active criminal court judge on television.

"I come from a background you usually don't find involved in this system," he says. "I come from where the problems originate and on my day job I go downtown and preside, but I don't leave the problem. I go right back to the problem."

Where's Wapner? He now presides over "Animal Court" on the Discovery Channel

From Tyson to TV show

Judge Mills Lane, meanwhile, has a previous claim to fame. He's the boxing referee who found himself in the ring during the Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield fight. Lane was forced to disqualify Tyson for biting Holyfield's ears.

"The big fight changed my life and turned it upside down," he says. "I came back to Reno from Las Vegas and the phone lines lit up like crazy and I had this call from this fella and he says, 'Have you ever thought about TV?'"

Now Lane, a former prosecutor and judge, is trying to spread his "do the right thing" attitude to television viewers across the country.

Playboy TV probably doesn't have a problem finding people to do jury duty for "Sex Court"

'Hell on heels'

"One of the great problems in this country, and it's terrible, is that no one will assume responsibility for what they do," Lane laments. "No one will stand up when they make a mistake."

Judge Judy Sheindlin, meanwhile, attracts fans with her mix of compassion and fire. She has been described as "hell on heels," and one college-student fan that dedicated a Web site to her calls her a "goddess" and "mentor."

Of course, if viewers grow tired of courtroom ramblings, the Playboy Channel offers "Sex Court." Viewers who can't tune in to the "proceedings" can use their imagination.

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