’90s Talk Shows Pushed The Envelope

By on Saturday, 4th September 2010

For some it may be hard to imagine what daytime TV would have been like without the presence of tabloid talk shows like Jerry Springer, Montell Williams and Ricki Lake.

Tabloid talk shows in the ’90s were loud and controversial and oftentimes over the top, but as crazy and uncensored as it may have been, it helped to define the decade.

In the 1990’s, host Maury Povich of “The Maury Povich Show” was also added to the long list of practitioners of the fine art of tabloid talk.

Some shows set out to create confrontations between their guests and there was one brawl that will go down in tabloid talk show history – the brawl that broke out on Geraldo Rivera’s show and left the host with a broken nose and big ratings.

Over the years, many tabloid talk shows were sensational with Jerry Springer’s show leading the way, pushing the envelope of what is acceptable.

“First of all, you had the classic Geraldo tape which was the early ’90s. It was about racism, the whole — it was a big — they had white Arians and they had the other side, of course, with talking about race and he got hit over the head with a chair and he was punched and things like that,” Povich said.

Povich has been lucky and has never really been smacked on his show.

“No. I mean, strangely enough, I’ve been in the middle of stuff. Of course, we don’t show physical violence on my show, so it wasn’t. But I’ve had to duck a few times. Some couples got heated,” Povich admitted.

During that era it was almost a competition to see who could do the craziest stuff and make the biggest splash or in their case — the biggest clash.

“Yeah. I think it was getting edgy and interestingly enough, when I started in ’91 with my talk show, it was kind of tame. I mean, we’re still doing news things,” he said.

“But what happened was, for instance, I think you were probably down there too — I went to Waco to cover the Branch Davidians and Phil Donahue was on the air and doing newsy stuff. Geraldo was trying to be newsy at times, but as the decade moved on, it got very edgy,” Povich said.

In conjunction with the violence on set, there are other things that Povich said he won’t do.

“I don’t really do things on religion. I don’t like that. I think it’s a no-win situation, because there’s always a problem with that. You know, when it comes to racism, I will do it, but not for exploitation purposes,” he said.

You won’t be seeing any chairs thrown on Povich’s show, however.

Povich is still on the air with a very loyal and spectacularly large audience.

“What I’ve heard since 1991, since the decade began, 65 talk shows have come and gone and we’re still here,” Povich said.

“Because you’re so good,” The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith replied.

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