I grew up in Stamford, Connecticut. It’s a short train ride from New York City, and therefore is a large commuter town. I started my first company in Stamford while I was in high school. We provided audio and lighting services for concerts and theatrical shows. It was the beginning of AMS Pictures!
In the last few years, Stamford has become home for a long running television show – in fact it’s really the first reality show. Long before Snooki and the Housewives, the Jerry Springer Show was showcasing lurid stories and fighting between guests. Can you believe Springer premiered over 21 years ago? That’s a whole bunch of shows – over 4,000!
I was recently in my hometown and E-Mailed Jerry for some tickets. My younger son and I waited in line for almost two hours – and I must say I was one of the oldest members of the audience (most of the crowd consisted of college students that were bused in).
The show is true theater – it’s really the same show every day with a changing cast of characters. Of course, Jerry is the bemused host – who seems to realize what a great gig this is (at 68 years old, he is a bit out of the demo for who watches the show). Then there is the stage manager who orchestrates exactly how the audience reacts – when I was there, an audience member got tossed out for not following his cues! The audience has their role, of course, mostly cheering “Jerry, Jerry” when directed. And lastly, the guests, who I am positive are 100% real. Why would you need to use actors for these roles? After all everyone wants to have their fifteen minutes on TV! The fighting seems real – to a point. The security guards take their role seriously. Having your guests actually get hurt would not be good for the show’s trashy reputation.
As I watched the show, I was reminded of how much reality television has taken Springer’s lead – fighting, guests who act out, topics guaranteed to gross out the audience. We all should give Jerry more credit. He created a business that is making money for dozens of networks today. I left Jerry’s show with a few ideas to bring back to my development team – it was not a wasted afternoon!
So, hey, Jerry – welcome to my hometown. I wish you had been there when I was in high school!