Petri Hawkins-Byrd, the longtime bailiff on “Judge Judy,” wants America to know he thinks the eponymous host is peeing on his leg and telling him that it’s raining.
According to a report in Monday’s New York Post, the fixture on the long-running daytime TV show is being kept out of the streaming reboot.
Hawkins-Bird said he was “priced out” of the new show — even though Judith Sheindlin, the straight-talking jurist, indicated she’s getting paid in the neighborhood of $47 million for Amazon/IMDb TV’s “Judy Justice.”
“Without giving you specifics, because that’s a little unseemly, my compensation has not been a secret. It’s been out there for a long time — not by me, but it got out there and had its own life,” Sheindlin told The Hollywood Reporter, referring to reports that she earned about $47 million per year on “Judge Judy.”
“So, the folks at Amazon understood what the parameters were,” she said.
Production on “Judge Judy” — where Hawkins-Byrd played a role something akin to Ed McMahon in a uniform for 25 years — wrapped in April.
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“My assumption is if you were going on to do something else, that you were at least going to ask me if I wanted to have the opportunity to audition for the role,” Byrd told Entertainment Weekly in an interview published Friday.
To make things worse, Byrd reportedly found out about the new show like everyone else did: when it was announced.
The Post noted that “at the time, [Byrd] was more focused on caring for his wife, longtime ‘Judge Judy’ producer Makita Bond-Byrd, who is recovering from surgery for a malignant brain tumor.”
“I didn’t have time to think about or ask about ‘Judy Justice,'” he said. “It wasn’t until July that I called the judge and asked, ‘Hey, should I look for something else or am I included in the ‘Judy Justice’ project?'”
“She informed me I was not being asked to come along on the project,” Byrd said.
“I didn’t inquire as to why, that’s her choice. But she did inform me that fundamentally, I was priced out as the new bailiff on her new show. My salary would have been too much. I was curious: How would she know? She didn’t ask me. She didn’t give me an opportunity to have accepted a lower salary.”
The new bailiff is Kevin Rasco, a member of Sheindlin’s security staff on “Judge Judy.”
Byrd added that his wife was asked to participate in “Judy Justice” but couldn’t due to health issues.
“The call with Judy ended pleasantly enough,” he said. “I don’t think she understood how confused and dismayed I was after being there for 25 years, from the beginning of her career, and not being at least given the opportunity to say whether or not I wanted to continue that relationship.”
Judge Judy, meanwhile, said through a representative that the show was going in a different direction.
“Byrd is terrific and we had a great 25-year run. This is a whole new program with a whole new cast and an exciting energy,” the representative told Entertainment Weekly.
The Western Journal contacted Sheindlin through her website for comment but has not received a reply.
The show debuts on Nov. 1, so I can’t attest to the new “exciting energy” Judge Judy will be exuding on Amazon. When she talked about the move in September, she told the Post’s Cindy Adams that it was “[t]ime for change. And I’m not tired. I’ve worked 50ish years and my legs are too short to be a ballet dancer. I wouldn’t know what else to do with myself.”
“Also the industry is changing,” she continued. “My children have no landline. They live with a thing in their palm. In the beginning, that to me was like living without pants. In three to five years all broadcasting will change. Now it’s streaming. I’m excited to be in this new venture. I’ve retired the lace collar. My robe is more chic. A different color.”
As a side note, another one of Judge Judy’s catchphrases is, “Yeah, right, and I was born in 1965.” There’s no better way to put a fine point on how sarcastic that is by telling a senescent gossip columnist she’s making the move to Amazon because those kids with the baggy pants watch TV with that thing in their palm and how does that even work?
Also adorable: “In three to five years all broadcasting will change.” Judge Judy has said “I can’t stand stupid, and I can’t stand slow.” She certainly ain’t stupid, but if she thinks this streaming service fad has a good chance of disrupting broadcast television at some point, oh boy is she ever slow.
Behind the whole “let’s laugh at grandma as she tries to figure out this streaming TV thing” aspect of this story lies a deeper problem: Her show’s excuse for ghosting her erstwhile sidekick because it wanted “a whole new cast and an exciting energy” doesn’t quite hold water.
From what we can tell, this seems like the same old Judge Judy: Two slack-jawed litigants argue over the damage done to a borrowed car and Judith Sheindlin points out that one or both of them could benefit from reading a book that doesn’t have Elmo on the cover. But this time, there’s no lace collar.
Meanwhile, Byrd was eased out of his role while his wife was fighting cancer.
He says it’s because of pricing — which may or may not be true, but it isn’t a good look when Sheindlin is getting Aaron Rodgers-type money.
Furthermore, if this were about bringing in fresh talent, Byrd’s job wouldn’t have gone to someone who already worked with Sheindlin on her old show. Not to trot out another Judge Judyism, but she says she’s fond of eating liars for breakfast. Her representative might want to watch out for cannibalism.
TV is a rough business, streaming or not. Just ask anyone who’s crossed Jay Leno.
That said, Judge Judy has built a brand on being the anti-Hollywood type: a tough-but-fair former family court judge who values integrity and tells it like it is.
Even looking at this report in the most charitable light, the whole Byrd affair seems to fly against that brand.
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