These are exciting times for Jerry Springer.
His brawl- and bleep-filled syndicated show — the one denounced by hordes of critics — celebrated its 20th anniversary last month. He hosts "Baggage," a dating program on the Game Show Network. And and this week, Springer, 66, hits the road to begin a gig as ringleader for the "America's Got Talent" live tour, which starts in Oakland, Calif.
The 25-city tour features standout performers from Season 5 of the zany NBC reality series. Set to take the stage are, among others, the season's champion, pop singer Michael Grimm, the black-light illusion performance troupe Fighting Gravity, 12-year-old ballroom dancing partners Anna and Patryk, and utra-glam baroque opera singer Prince Poppycock.
Q: Wow, 20 years in daytime TV. Did you ever think you'd have this much staying power?
A: Absolutely not. My first contract was for six weeks, and I had no expectations beyond that.... What's really weird is that we're now getting the children of our original guests, which is just wrong because they were told not to procreate.
Q: You're going to outlast Oprah, who is ending her show after this season. Does that blow your mind?
A: Well, you can't even put Oprah in the same sentence as me. She's the best who ever was. She does a real talk show. We do a circus.