Judge Judy doesn’t take shit—not from the people she gets paid almost $50 million a year to scream at in her TV courtroom, nor from the people who actually pony up said salary. According to a deposition obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, here’s what happens when it’s time for Judy to re-negotiate her deal with CBS:
Sheindlin says that every three years, she sits down for a renegotiation with CBS and brings along a card with her demands. Sometimes, she wants a bump for the crew who work on Judge Judy. Sometimes, it’s something different. But there’s always the salary.
“And we go to the Grill on the Alley with the president of the company,” says the tough-minded judge about CBS. “We sit across the table, and I hand him the envelope and I say, ‘Don’t read it now, let’s have a nice dinner. Call me tomorrow. You want it, fine. Otherwise, I’ll produce it myself.’ That’s the negotiation.”
Guess what happened the one time CBS did not immediately acquiesce to Judy’s demands? (Spoiler alert: It didn’t go well for them!)
“John Nogawski [former president of CBS TV Distribution] came to the meeting at the Grill on the Alley, and I handed him my envelope, and he said, ‘Judy, I have my own envelope.’ And I said, ‘I don’t want to look at it.’ He said, ‘Why not? Maybe it’s more than what’s in your envelope.’ And I said, ‘Well, John, if I look at your envelope, it’s a negotiation. This isn’t a negotiation.’ And he put his envelope away and they gave me what I wanted; not a whole thing, not 30 pages, three things, whatever it was, done. So to suggest that the largest profit participant, which is CBS, would pay me willingly more money is so ludicrous. Their back’s to the wall.”
The testimony, by the way, comes from a lawsuit filed against CBS by Rebel Entertainment Partners that claims Judy’s enormous salary is blocking its profits from the show. Rebel is successor-in-interest to a talent agency that supposedly helped launch Judge Judy by representing two of its producers who were subsequently ousted (Sandi Spreckman and Kaye Switzer), though Judy calls bullshit on that, too, in her deposition:
“I haven’t seen [Rebel boss Richard Lawrence] or heard from him in over 21 years. I think I said something like for him to complain about my salary when he’s made ... 17 million dollars ... for what was perhaps two, three hours’ worth of business, that, to me, is obscene. Especially since it has always been my view that Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Lyttle were in collusion right from the beginning, just as Mr. Lyttle was with Fred Fenster to screw the girls. ... I don’t think he can ever suggest that he represented me, and if he did represent these two women, he did such an atrocious job as an agent in representing them, because while he made tens of millions of dollars, I had to give Kaye Switzer money several years ago because she couldn’t pay her rent.”
THR reports that Rebel is “entitled to a 5 percent share of net profits.” An earlier report states: “From 1996-2007, Rebel received about $6.4 million from its share of the show, but has not received a dime in backend compensation since February 2010.” Good luck wrestling that money away from Judge Judy, everyone! She’s a pitbull (who, if you watch her show you know, absolutely despises the practice of keeping pitbulls as pets).