Judith Sheindlin

TV Judge

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents



About this interview

In her two-hour Archive interview, Judge Judith Sheindlin discusses in detail her transition from being a New York Family Court judge (where she was known as "America's toughest judge") to becoming a phenomenal television success as "Judge Judy." She chronicles her rise to notoriety, which peaked when she was featured on 60 Minutes. From that appearance, she soon was offered the opportunity to bring her "no excuses" judicial philosophy to the small screen. Judge Sheindlin talks about Judge Judy's flawed pilot and how the show found its footing early-on. She also discusses her courtroom demeanor (including her famous "Judy-isms") and talks about the production details of the show. Stephen J. Abramson conducted the interview on December 1, 2009 in Beverly Hills, CA.

"If you're going to try to make a fool of the justice system by not following the rules, by flaunting its orders, by not abiding by the laws of the place where you live, there is a consequence. I am your consequence."

Judith Sheindlin on her childhood fantasy of becoming a star
Judith Sheindlin on being a "law and order girl" and how to apply flexibility in law, within parameters, and on unacceptable behavior in her opinion
Judith Sheindlin on the role of the judge and the criminal justice system
Judith Sheindlin on getting across the message that the justice system means business
Judith Sheindlin on watching The People's Court and knowing she could do better, by using humor
Judith Sheindlin on her reputation as a tough family court judge
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early childhood, her parents, and influences
On her earliest memory of television: watching Milton Berle (and later meeting him)
On learning comedic timing from her father and others growing up; on her ambitions to become famous; on realizing the power of humor
On her education; on attending New York Law school in the 1960s; on her professional goals
On her belief in right and wrong and how to apply flexibility in law, within parameters; on unacceptable behavior in her opinion; on finding her mission
On what she brings to the bench as a judge; on her reputation as a tough judge and her view of the role of the criminal justice system
On her trademark lace collar
On her appearance on 60 Minutes; on how she agreed to be on the show which filmed her outspoken courtroom demeanor
On the experience of being on television; on writing books
On what led to the show Judge Judy; on her opinion on televising the courtroom
On the original title for Judge Judy; on her input on the show and what she learned about the television business

Chapter 2

On making the transition from a real courtroom to a television courtroom

60 Minutes

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Judith Sheindlin on her appearance on 60 Minutes and why she agreed to do the piece

Judge Judy

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Judith Sheindlin on what led to the show Judge Judy and her opinion on televising the courtroom
Judith Sheindlin on the pilot of Judge Judy and not being an actress, and the difficulties in filming a real courtroom
Judith Sheindlin on wanting to name her show Hot Bench or Judy Justice

Texaco Star Theater

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Judith Sheindlin (Judge Judy) on growing up watching Texaco Star Theater with Milton Berle; seeing the star in New York years later

Milton Berle

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Judith Sheindlin on growing up watching Texaco Star Theater with Milton Berle; when she met the star he told her "kid you got great comedy timing"

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