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Jerry Springer's Ringmaster Was Hollywood's Attempt At Turning The Host Into An Actor

Back in the '90s, some aspects of daytime TV pretty much matched what we see today. There were plenty of game shows and soap operas, all mixed with the standard commercials for diapers, cleaning products, and life insurance plans. But the one major difference back then was that shocking talk shows were all the rage, and Jerry Springer was king. By now, his name is synonymous with brawling love-triangles and shocking racial altercations. And one thing that hasn't changed from back in the '90s (or any other time for that matter), was that Hollywood studios knew when they had an opportunity to cash in on what was trending. For this late daytime great, that came in the form of the movie "Ringmaster."

"Ringmaster," which also stars Jamie Pressley, was released by Artisan Entertainment back in November 1998. In the film, Springer plays a fictional version of himself, a character named Jerry Farrelly. The film can definitely be considered a flop as it didn't even make back half of it estimated $20 million budget. Based on reviews from critics and fans, its reception was dismal. And although Springer, up until 2021, popped up in many different TV series and films, "Ringmaster" would be the one and only time he starred in a major motion picture. He did, however, write an autobiography of the same name, which was released the same year as the movie. "I can only think of one title a year," he joked to CNN.

The role required zero research

When watching the peak performance of Jerry Springer's acting career in "Ringmaster," it may be a challenge to dig deep and put in the effort to follow the multiple ongoing storylines. One revolves around a woman named Starletta (Wendy Raquel Robinson), whose boyfriend happens to be having an affair with her two best friends. Another equally cringeworthy plot focuses on Angel (Pressley), who is sleeping with her mother's husband all while her mother is secretly doing the same with Angel's boyfriend. These stories are all leading to the talk show "The Jerry Show," where Springer's character attempts to sort out these mind-bending tales, all on national TV. For Springer, the role didn't require him to do a whole lot of research.

At the time of the movie's release, Springer was clearly enjoying his journey. He surely expressed this when talking to CNN, saying, "I am having the time of my life. I mean, being mayor of Cincinnati was the most challenging job I ever had, but this is the most fun." Springer was wisely humble with his appreciation for this unexpected fame. "I mean, I get paid for going to camp. I'm loving it. It's a great life." As for preparing to be in his first (and only) leading movie role, his description of the film's plot was as simple as his weekly real life. "It's a comedy about these two dysfunctional families that are desperately trying to get on this crazy talk show, and I happen to be the host for the talk show."