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‘Jerry Springer’ to Throw Fewer Punches

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In an abrupt twist, the producer and distributor of the “Jerry Springer Show,” on which guests regularly fight and brawl in front of a cheering studio audience, announced Friday that it would be cutting back on the physical altercations that have made the syndicated show a ratings hit.

USA Networks Studios also said the Springer show would carry a strict advisory warning parents not to let their children watch it.

The announcement came just as the Chicago-based program for the second time in two months scored higher in the national syndication ratings than “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Springer’s program has been the first in 11 years to beat Winfrey in the talk show wars.

Henry Schleiff, executive vice president of talk shows for USA Networks Studios, said the move to diminish the violence on the show was made in response to concerns raised by viewers and stations that carry the program.

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He said that the show’s security force will be increased and that guests will be told that fighting could lead to their being kicked off the show. Altercations also may be edited out before broadcast, he added.

The announcement represents a reversal of the position taken by USA Networks Studios executives and Springer in a Los Angeles Times story running in Sunday’s Calendar section. In that story--reported and published before Friday’s policy shift--executives and Springer said there were no plans to change the show in light of the criticism and concerns over the constant brawling.


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