Jerry Springer takes the money and runs to . . . Connecticut?
It's the kind of epically bizarre match that could only be the product of a lot of money. Stamford, whose Rich Forum Theater will be the show's new venue, sits about 30 miles outside of New York City, and is home to many of Wall Street's most famous (and infamous) money men.
Oddly enough, the new studio sits next to one of the oldest Catholic churches in the area. The pastor of the church is talking to lawyers about trying to stop the show, which one of his parishioners called "low-brow." The Rev. Stephen DiGiovanni of St. John's Catholic Church said many of the people in his church "didn't think this was the right place for it," adding, "I'm not very thrilled about it."
DiGiovanni worried that "Springer is making millions on other peoples' misery and stereotypes." And as anyone who has seen it knows, the show does consistently feature the poor and the woefully uneducated. Gold Coast Connecticut is an odd place to stage such a show, although not everything is golden in the Constitution State.
While the recession hasn't hit Connecticut as hard as many other areas, the state's unemployment rate is currently over seven percent. Between January 2008 and January 2009, in fact, it lost 38,300 jobs, or two percent of its total employment. As experts predict unemployment will rise over the next year and a half, the state has been aggressively courting potential employers.
In the case of Springer, this meant offering a 30% production tax credit, a 20% tax credit on infrastructure costs over $1 million, and a promise to spend $3 million on infrastructure. Stamford's proximity to New York City makes it a convenient location for the city's pre-existing television industry, and enables Springer to take advantage of New York's position as a transportation hub.
Springer's show will be joined by Maury, a talk show hosted by Maury Povich, and The Steve Wilkos Show, which will be hosted by Springer's security director. All told, the new programs will bring in 150-200 jobs and an impressive influx of cash. This will also help the Stamford Center for the Arts, which runs the Rich Forum theater and is currently facing bankruptcy.
There is definitely some irony in the idea of Springer saving an organization that, up until now, has been best known for bringing opera, classical music, and popular musical acts to Connecticut's benighted suburbs. That having been said, there is probably no greater irony than the marriage of Jerry Springer and an area that is generally associated with Martha Stewart.
For that matter, as some reporters have noted, it's hardly an accident that "Stamford" sounds a lot like "Stepford." When Ira Levin was writing The Stepford Wives, his scathing satire of suburban sexism, he latched onto the Connecticut town as a bastion of chilly New England social conservatism. While the actual town was based on Darien, Connecticut, its location as a mere "step" from Stamford yielded "Stepford."
True to form, Springer is already bringing controversy to the area. As mentioned above, Rev. Stephen DiGiovanni is already talking to lawyers about a potential suit to keep Springer away. And this wouldn't make a bad segment for the Church's new neighbor: "When Reverends Meet Reprobates: Next on Springer."