CBS Television Distribution issued a press release at the end of March announcing that the "Judge Joe Brown" court reality program was being terminated because of a salary dispute with the show's namesake and star, former Memphis attorney and judge, Joe Brown.
"Judge Joe Brown" has been the consistent No. 2 program in the syndication market for more than a decade, with "Judge Judy" the top-slot holder.
According to CBS, the ratings for "Judge Joe Brown" began to dip last year, down 17 percent over the previous year, and dipping 15 percent in the key 25-54 female demographic.
Newer episodes and reruns will continue to run on Fox in many major markets, but unless Brown and CBS renegotiate, the show – as its viewers know it – is finished.
In his signature "I don't bow" Memphis style, Brown says "C YA!" He tells The New Tri-State Defender that he now is moving to launch his own independent platform.
Tony Jones: Hollywood is famous for its voodoo economics, with such big stars as Kevin Costner and even the author of "Forrest Gump" claiming they are owed for major projects. What is your problem with CBS's distribution team?
Judge Joe Brown: I decided to cut CBS loose because they weren't acting right. According to FCC filings, CBS announced net profits for the last 15 quarters. As a matter of fact, they were the highest profits in CBS history. The executives gave themselves lucrative raises, bonuses and stock options and told the regular working people that make the product (that) they were broke.
They offered me a 50-50 split and wanted me to take an IOU for money they already owed me, or at least part of it, and that wasn't going to sit very well. In the meeting I told them exactly what they were making and what their pay increases were and they said, "How did you find that out?" Just be smart and do your research.
TJ: Five million (dollars) a year still feels sounds like a nice chunk of change from this end.
Judge Brown: I have not been on salary for many years. They wanted to give me a raise. But I have my own company, Celebretunity. We will be producing movies, talk radio and production. The ink is already dry on several deals we will be announcing later. We have a very eclectic group and are discussing deals around the world, including a deal with the city and police department in Miami, South America and Russia.... we may even continue to do "Judge Joe Brown" with a lot more integrity and a lot more of what people have come to expect of me, but it will be produced by Celebritunity.
TJ: You've had a good run.
Judge Brown: We have been number one overall, day or night, and in the syndication market we were number two in the daytime. We should have been number one, but CBS didn't like my message. Their agenda is that there should be no standards and that's the type of message you get from them. It's nihilistic, no point in it.
They want African Americans to glorify the worst of dysfunction. You always see the worst of the "hood" and everybody that's supposed to be a star glamorizing "the hood," and you get stuff like Tyler Perry's Madea, or whoever that big fat woman is (that) he likes to portray. That kind of stuff is wrong for us. It's dysfunction glorified.
TJ: Mr. Brown! Shouldn't someone in your position be more diplomatic?
Judge Brown: (Joking) Diplomatic is don't let me smack you upside your head. Diplomacy is supposed to be for the people and for the benefit of the people. What goes is that the people who are most important are never treated diplomatically, especially when it comes to real information and the truth.
In my last election I established a record landslide victory. I got 72 percent of the vote. My opponent's mother "owned" The Commercial Appeal (newspaper) and they spent more than the congressional and mayoral candidates and he still only got 28 percent of the vote.
Pull the record. It was never properly reported. The TV stations didn't cover me for the rest of the night because they didn't want to report it because it was me. I'm not diplomatic, but when I'm wrong, I admit it. I'm no hypocrite. I apologize when I'm wrong, but they couldn't deal with that.