Jerry Springer, one of the most famous television personalities on the planet, has lived in Sarasota for the past 15 years. The Bird Key resident might be seen at the many local restaurants he favors or attending a show at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall but the star of the “The Jerry Springer Show” rarely makes local public appearances. On Sunday, though, Springer will make his debut on the Van Wezel stage as host of “The Price is Right Live!”
“We love the area but we are pretty private, this is very rare I do anything public in Sarasota,” Springer says from his show’s studio in Stamford, Conn., shortly before taping another episode. “(Sarasota) is the one place I want to have a private life and try to keep pretty much to ourselves. This is family time to me, a place where I can be a regular person and not be involved with show business. If this wasn’t ‘The Price is Right,’ I wouldn't be doing it.”
“The Price is Right Live!” gives contestants pulled from the audience the chance to “come on down.” Those lucky enough to be picked will compete for appliances, vacations and even new cars by playing classic contests from the famed TV game show. About a year ago, Springer started hosting the interactive stage show at venues across the country on dates when his busy schedule allowed.
“It’s more of a comedy when I do the show simply because I just use it as an excuse to joke with contestants, the games are almost secondary,” Springer says. “I’m joking with them and everyone is having a good time and that’s what I love about this show; it’s like old-time show business with a live audience and no script. I just enjoy talking with regular people. I don’t get much of a charge out of talking with celebrities; just regular folks, the non-famous.”
Springer has made a career of playing ringmaster to “regular folks.” “The Jerry Springer Show,” internationally-syndicated and currently in its 23rd season, is one of the most successful television shows of the past quarter century. It famously features guests in love triangles, guests who want to confront their partner’s ex and pretty much any other guest scenario that will likely result in a verbal or physical altercation. Springer refuses to look down at his guests, though, and does not appreciate when others dismiss them as white trash, etc.
“It upsets my social conscience,” says Springer, who served as the mayor of Cincinnati in the late 1970s. “I’m very political, far too liberal for most people, especially for people in Sarasota, and I don’t appreciate this sense of elitism where we think we are better than them because we have more money or did better in the gene pool of parents. We are not better human beings. Just read the newspaper, wealthy people have not cornered the market on virtue. We are all alike, some just luckier. I’m luckier, not better.”
In fact, Springer thinks his guests would probably bring home some great prizes if they were contestants on “The Price is Right Live!” “Most of the items are just everyday grocery items and most of the people on our show are not wealthy, they’re very conscious of prices and use coupons,” Springer says. “They would probably do very well.”
“THE PRICE IS RIGHT LIVE!” WITH JERRY SPRINGER
7 p.m. Sunday; Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota; $36.50-$66.50; 953-3368; vanwezel.org.