When Judy Sheindlin quit her job as a real judge in Manhattan’s family court in 1996, I’ll bet she never dreamt that her TV show would run until 2015, according to her latest contract; that she would work five days a month, flying from Florida on a private jet to Los Angeles to tape the shows; and pull in $45 million dollars a year. Nice work if you can get it!
After 16 years and 15 Daytime Emmy nominations, her schtick still draws us in, as many as ten million people daily, who never tire of her sarcastic one-liners like “Beauty Fades, Dumb is Forever”, a truism usually reserved for pretty girls who drop out of high school and hook up with even dumber young men.
So, what’s the payoff for litigants who agree to have Judge Judy arbitrate their dispute? If the person making the claim (the Plaintiff or the Claimant) wins, the show pays him or her the amount of the judgment awarded by the court. If the person opposing the claim (the Defendant or the Respondent) wins, each of the parties receives an appearance fee.
Yes, she makes a staggering amount of money, even more than David Letterman earns. To put it in perspective, the Chief Justice of Canada, Beverly MacLachlin, earns only $370,300 per year and our local Justices of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal in British Columbia cash annual cheques in the amount of $315,900.
But the most obvious gauge of her success is the phalanx of imitators, including Judge Joe Brown, Judge Mathis, Divorce Court and Texas Justice. As humourist Fred Allen once said “Imitation is the sincerest form of television”.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang