They may be more glamorous, flamboyant personalities but Wendy Williams and Queen Latifah don’t rule the daytime yet. The woman who does? Judge Judy, who is number one in daytime for the past four years with her syndicated self-titled show and her highly sensitive B.S. detector.
Judy Sheindlin, now 71, a former Family Court judge in New York City, has been on the air 18 seasons and after 14 straight seasons of daytime Emmy nominations with no win, the show earned its first Emmy last year.
Judy has a new show on the way called Hot Bench that aims to add to her successful run. The format will be three judges deliberating case from their three very different points of view. In a real courtroom, a “hot bench” according to Judy, is a judge that really knows their material and asks probing questions of the lawyers. So lawyers approaching a “hot bench” know they need to come with their cases well-prepared, thus the designation of the bench as hot.
“Life is about adventure and trying something new but not so far out of the box that it’s something strange to you,” Judge Judy told the Tom Joyner Morning Show. “I’m trying my hand at creating a new court program and I think that we’ve hit a winner. They are fabulous legally trained minds that I think the public will embrace. It’s been really a joy for me to be involved in a new project. Life is about recreating yourself and keeping things fresh and new.”
Judy handpicked the three judges, including one she says is just like her, but “younger and blonder.” But bailiff Petri Hawkins-Byrd is staying with her, Judy assured Tom. The former real-life bailiff is the longest-running bailiff on TV courtroom shows.He got the job when sent Sheindlin, who he’d worked with previously in New York, a congratulatory letter telling her he’d look good on TV. She obviously agreed.
“Byrd works enough. We don’t like to overtax Byrd. If you notice, he hardly wants to walk over and get evidence for me anymore. He looks annoyed if I ask him for information. If I ask him for the Blue Book value of the car, he says ‘Why not walk over and do it yourself?’ We have a lovely female bailiff this time, who worked in the Los Angeles court system.”
Hot Bench starts in the fall. Check your local listings.