|Who is it?||Actor, Producer, Writer|
|Birth Day||November 19, 1926|
|Birth Place||Baltimore, Maryland, United States|
|Age||94 YEARS OLD|
|Genre||Reality Court Show|
|Created by||John Masterson|
|Presented by||Doug Llewelyn (1981–93, 2016–present) Harvey Levin (1997–present)|
|Judges||Joseph Wapner (1981–93) Ed Koch (1997–99) Jerry Sheindlin (1999–2001) Marilyn Milian (2001–present)|
|Narrated by||Jack Harrell (1981–93) Curt Chaplin (1997–present)|
|Theme music composer||Alan Tew (1981–present)|
|Opening theme||"The Big One" (1981–93)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||12 (original series) 20 (revived series) 32 (overall)|
|Executive producer(s)||Ralph Edwards Stu Billett|
|Running time||22 minutes (1981–93) 44 minutes (1997–present)|
|Production company(s)||Ralph Edwards Productions (1981–87) Stu Billett Productions (1981–87) Ralph Edwards-Stu Billett Productions (1987–93; 1997–present)|
|Distributor||Telepictures Corporation (1981–86) (seasons 1-5) Lorimar-Telepictures (1986–89) (seasons 6-8) Warner Bros. Television Distribution (1989–93; 1997–present) (seasons 8-12; season 1-present)|
|Picture format||SDTV 480i (1981–present) Aspect ratio: 4:3 (1981–2012) 16:9 (2012–present)|
|Original release||Original series: September 14, 1981 (1981-09-14) – May 17, 1993 (1993-05-17) Revived series: September 8, 1997 (1997-09-08) – present|
What you are about to witness is real. The participants are not actors. They are the actual people who have already either filed suit or been served a summons to appear in a California municipal court. Both parties in the suit have agreed to dismiss their court cases and have their disputes settled here, in our forum: The People's Court.
When John Masterson devised the original camera-in-court concept in 1975, he first pitched it to Monty Hall, the Producer and host of the game show Let's Make a Deal, and his partner, producer-writer Stefan Hatos. They put a young associate, Stu Billett, in charge of selling it, but the networks were not interested. Billett later went out on his own and refined the concept into a show shot in a studio rather than a real courtroom. Small-claims court participants agreed to drop their court cases and accept binding arbitration in a simulated courtroom. The networks expressed interest, but still did not buy it; however, it did sell into the first-run syndication market. The series was executive produced by Ralph Edwards, who also created and hosted the documentary show This Is Your Life, and Stu Billett, who later went on to create Moral Court. John Masterson, whom many consider a pioneer and originator of "reality TV" also created Bride and Groom and Breakfast in Hollywood.
The judge from the show's original 12 years (including the 1980 pilot), was Joseph Wapner. Rusty Burrell was his bailiff, Jack Harrell was the announcer, and Doug Llewelyn was the host and court reporter, who announced the matter of the dispute at the beginning of each trial. He also interviewed the plaintiff and the defendant after the court ruling, to gauge their responses to the verdict. Llewelyn often ended each episode with a jaunty "If you're in a dispute with another party and you can't seem to work things out, don't take the law into your own hands; you take 'em to court," which became something of a 1980s catchphrase. If a case ended with a verdict for the defendant, however, Llewelyn instead ended the episode by saying, "If someone files a lawsuit against you and yet you're convinced you've done nothing wrong, don't be intimidated. The best policy is to go to court and stand up for your rights."
The 1981–93 life of the show was initially taped at Golden West Broadcasters and, later, Metromedia in Los Angeles, before moving to The Production Group. In New York City, The People's Court first taped episodes at the NEP/Image studios in the former Grand Ballroom of the Hotel Pennsylvania, which was also the studio for the talk show Maury. In 1998, the show began taping at the MTI Studios on the 8th floor at 401 Fifth Avenue, where the courtroom received a makeover. In 2006, the MTI Studios were sold to NEP/Image. At the end credits of some episodes, the show is said to be taped at the NEP/Image studios. The former MTI studios are officially part of NEP Broadcasting's NEP Penn Studios.
In 1989, a litigant sued the producers, claiming, "I was only willing to appear because they guaranteed me $1,500. I never would have appeared on that show and made a fool out of myself for a chintzy $250." (In response, an associate Producer said that before going on the show, participants are given a packet of information "where everything is clearly outlined to the nth degree.")
After 12 seasons on The People's Court, Wapner was not invited back to the court show in 1993. The producers of The People's Court wished to revamp the series, but they didn't notify him of the decision, which he eventually learned of from his brother-in-law, who read about it in The San Francisco Chronicle. Wapner expressed holding great resentment and bitterness at the court show's producers for finding out this way, and additional resentment over being let go when, according to him, the show was still doing well. However, although the show had a good run ratings-wise, the ratings had dropped to an all-time low at around the time The People's Court was cancelled.
Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch presided over the court from September 8, 1997, to June 25, 1999 (with reruns airing until September 10). Several months into the run, Martin departed the series and Levin became the series' sole host. The studio segments were done away with and Levin hosted the entire episodes from the viewing area, which eventually moved from the Manhattan Mall to the Times Square visitors' center. Since Levin is now based in Los Angeles with TMZ, the viewing area has moved to the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California, while production of The People's Court has moved to Connecticut. The opening outlines of the taped cases are shown to people in the outdoor viewing area on a monitor. Their responses are edited into the program.
Judge Jerry Sheindlin (husband of former New York Family Court Judge Judith Sheindlin, the presiding judge over the court show Judge Judy) sat on the bench from September 13, 1999, to March 9, 2001, and ratings on the show lagged. The bailiff for both of these judges' tenures was Josephine Ann Longobardi.
When Marilyn Milian replaced Sheindlin in 2001, the previous introduction was revised:
A British version of the show was produced by STV Productions (then known as "SMG TV Productions") to replace Trisha Goddard's talk show on ITV in 2005. The court reporter was Carol Smillie, the male judge was Jerome Lynch, and the female judge was Rhonda Anderson. The show was considered a failure and not renewed.
In September 2009, the new opening was revealed when the new season premiered:
In 2012, the show moved to the Connecticut Film Center in Stamford. The aired episodes are sometimes spliced together in a different order from which they are taped. This is why the judge's blouse color may change and why fewer courtroom observers may be seen during the second half of the show than during the first half. For the 2012 season, the show started broadcasting in widescreen standard definition.
In 2008, The People's Court, under Milian's reign, was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award under a new Courtroom/Legal Show category created by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. In 2009 and 2010, the show was nominated again for the Daytime Emmy Award under the same category, but did not win. On May 1, 2013, The People's Court had again been nominated for an Outstanding Legal/Courtroom Program Daytime Emmy, but again did not win.
The People's Court finally won a Daytime Emmy in 2014 and again in 2015
With 32 seasons as of September 5, 2016, The People's Court ranks as the second-longest running courtroom series in history (behind Divorce Court). Its current production life entered its 20th season on September 5, 2016.
As of September 2017 The People's Court ranks third behind number one Judge Judy and number two Hot Bench in the ratings for TV court shows.