The combat TV host discusses working on this new show, sharing the stage with three judges and who he's currently getting behind for President in 2008
Having created a show that the world simply refers to as "Springer" (The Jerry Springer Show), and caused a stir on Dancing with the Stars, Jerry Springer has that certain intangible that TV audiences love. Now, he goes back to his host roots on America's Got Talent. Sharing the limelight with judges David Hasselhoff, Piers Morgan and new judge Sharon Osbourne, it'd be worth watching this show just to see what this fearsome foursome does each week.
America's Got Talent showcases a colorful array of hopeful, future stars -- singers, dancers, comedic performers and unique acts of all ages who have a chance to strut and perform in front of a panel of celebrity judges. Recently, new host Jerry Springer sat down for a press conference to discuss working on this show.
Do you ever feel bad for the contestants?
Jerry Springer: Well, I think I kind of know what they're feeling to be in a contest before a national audience, doing something that you really haven't done professionally, I understand the butterflies. I think, who are we kidding? The reason I was chosen as the host was because next to me everyone has talent.
How great of a difference is it from being a ring master to being in the ring?
Jerry Springer: Between that there is a tremendous difference. On my regular show I don't have to participate and I can just watch as the viewers do. When you're on something like Dancing with the Stars... you're really part of it all. I get involved in this America's Got Talent because I spend a lot of time with the contestants backstage, and I observe their nervousness; either their confidence or their pretend confidence. I see a rhythm when they come off the stage and their reaction to what the judges might have said so there's far more involvement.
Jerry Springer: Yeah, I guess on this show I really take the side of the contestant. I don't know that we planned that but that's what I really feel. I think sometimes the judges are too tough on them. Not with how they grade them but sometimes with their comments. I think the people that are trying out kind of relate to that. I'm in their corner and sometimes there are occasions when I walk out on stage and get on the judges and say, "Hey, cool it. This guy's giving it his best shot or whatever, there's no reason to insult him." I feel like an advocate for those who are trying out. Its not my job to say who should win but I certainly want to make it a good experience for those that try out.
Is there a Presidential candidate that you're throwing your weight behind?
Jerry Springer: Well, I started with Hillary over the years. I guess, I really like her. I like Obama too and Edwards and honestly, this is an embarrassment of riches, probably the first time since 1976 that there have been so many quality candidates on the Democratic side. I'm kind of enjoying it now and we'll see what happens in the year, but no... I've contributed money to Hillary but other than that I haven't been pushing any one particular candidate.
Can you talk about a few of your favorite acts that you've seen on America's Got Talent so far?
Jerry Springer: There are a couple of groups, singing groups, that are really good. That are funny and good. There's also some totally crazy acts, that are weird but good. I'm involved in one magic act. I don't know how the guy did it. Here I am in the middle of it all and I say, "How did I get here?" I really feel like I'm Ed Sullivan. I'm bringing out these acts, you go from this great singer to all of the sudden this guy juggling plates, animal acts, fire acts. I don't know that there's anything else like it on television now. It used to be a common form of television, the variety show, that's what this is. This is really a variety show.
Do you think of yourself as modern day Ed Sullivan but maybe a little more limber?
Jerry Springer: Well, obviously, I don't want to put myself on the same plateau as an Ed Sullivan but in terms of the presentation of what's out there in America, that's certainly what his show did on Sunday nights for a generation. I guess, yeah, if you combine America's Got Talent, it surely is, a presentation. Its just the people aren't famous and I guess that's the difference. If I cut out any niche for myself in the television business, it probably is that, I guess. I can't imagine anybody who has spoken to more, or presented more non-famous people on television in the history of the world. Johnny Carson's been on longer than me but he talked to famous people.
With the eclectic group of judges you have this year, was there any bickering between them? Or, difference of opinion?
Jerry Springer: Well yeah, they do go at each other quite a bit. I think the three of them are strong personalities. I think most of the action is among the judges.
Has David Hasselhoff come to you about any of his recent problems?
Jerry Springer: Sometimes he starts... I just met him and he seems like a nice enough guy and I like him. I hope everything turns out well but its his private life and its not appropriate for me to comment on it or for him to even talk to me about it. I just try to stay away from that.
How do you think the difference of opinions among the judges effects contestants?
Jerry Springer: Well, I think most of the contestants are scared of Piers Morgan, he's the British guy. He's very bright but very tough. He plays the Simon Cowell role. So they figure that if they can get by Piers they'll move on to the next round. I would say that's probably true. He's the toughest. Sharon tends to be very supportive at times. She plays, for the real young ones, the kind mother.
America's Got Talent returns on Tuesday, June 5 from 9-11 p.m., before moving to its regular time slot from 8-9 p.m. on Tuesdays.
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