star jones — renowned television personality, journalist and lawyer — is proud to don the robe and carry the gavel as the newest judge in divorce court. Maintaining the legacy of the show is a responsibility not taken lightly.
“I left the dentist earlier today, and all my dentist wanted to do was talk about a case,” Jones tells TV Insider. “I had to remember which one aired so I could intelligently talk about the facts of the case. Even though I did 180 episodes this season, watching them on TV is just as much fun as presiding over the first time.”
Here, we hit the proverbial bench as Jones reflects on his experience joining television’s longest-running courtroom series. Your Honor also recalls the return to the old ground of the view for a recent occurrence.
How do you feel about the feedback you’ve received about your time at divorce court so far?
star jones: I’m very proud of what we put in the can this season. I have to follow behind three amazing and incredible women: Mablean [Ephriam]lynn [Toler]and faith [Jenkins]. Then I put my own spin on it: I do something a little different with a couple of new elements. I’m very proud that the audience is embracing it because I think relationship television is very compelling to watch. You see yourself in many of these people. You find yourself unable to communicate effectively, wondering about trust issues, having to survive an affair outside of marriage. These are situations that couples face every day. Have the [opportunity] bringing him into your home in a compassionate and empathetic way is truly one of the most wonderful things that has happened in my career.
You presided over the ephemeral Jones and jury early in his television career. you find divorce court Is the circle closing?
It’s interesting that you say that. I was the first African American to have my own court show. So, as I like to tell people, OJ Simpson happened… This is really a full circle moment. I love the law. Everybody knows that. [Saturday Night Live alum] Tracy Morgan makes a better me than me. “I’m Star Jones and I’m a lawyer.” I absolutely love that with all my heart because he knows how much I love the law. I love how you can come to a fair and just decision based solely on the law. Then he mixes specific facts and common sense and well-earned common hits on his life. I think that’s the secret ingredient of this type of television. I’m excited to do it all over again, but this way.
What are you most excited to have added to the show in your approach and presentation?
The first thing I wanted to do is look back at its history and where it came from. divorce court dates back to the 1950s when actors were used to re-enacting actual proceedings. Today it is made up of real people and real cases. If I tried to write any of these things, Hollywood would reject me for being too outlandish in terms of a story. Knowing that really allowed me to add an empathic twist. that may have been missing. I bring my life experience to the bench. I’m a former prosecutor, so I can ask those tough questions. I hold litigants accountable and get to the truth. So you get some “Aunt Star” and Judge Star.
I also prepare and study these cases, so when the litigants come, I give them my best because their stories are important to me. I do seven to nine shows a day, four days a week for a week of recording. I read every fact pattern [summary] unless my producer wants me to be surprised by a particular piece of evidence, like a DNA result or a paternity test or a drug test because we want my reaction to that. You got me giving an opening statement. At the end of the case, I welcome you to my chambers for my conversation with the bailiff. I think I’ve taken the best of divorce court and 24 seasons later, Star kicks it up a notch with a slightly more human touch and style.
Is there anything that surprises you about the experience?
Probably what surprised me the most was how brutally open the litigants are, willing to share the most intimate details of their relationship problems. I don’t know if I expected to care so much and be moved by every single fact pattern. You will hear me reflect a lot on how litigants are affecting their children and families. I have turned my virtual audience into my own jury. I feed on them. I ask for your opinions. I want people to feel part of the show and invested. The only thing that all cases have in common is that the litigant comes to court because they have not felt heard in the relationship. They will be heard here.
Do you find a renewed appreciation for your own marriage after hearing these cases?
I do it a lot. My husband and I had a date last night. We’ve been having a lot of fun. The pandemic is what made us realize that we truly enjoy being together more than anything else. We play cards, we watch sports and we watch the news. We see forensic files. He is a criminal defense attorney who is now an administrative judge, and I am a former prosecutor who is a television judge. We sit there and analyze the cases. We have that in common. We are as happy to go to the White House for an event as we are to go to the White Castle for those “killer burgers”. My husband brought something to the marriage that he never knew he wanted or needed, that’s my son. We have a 17 year old boy. I didn’t give Jake the gift of life, but marrying Ricardo gave me Jake’s gift. This family means more to me.
It was fun seeing you with Sherri Shepherd on her show and your return to the view promoting divorce court. How was the review?
I’ve had a lot of fun. For the view, this is the 25th anniversary. As an official OG, it was literally like we had never been apart. When we walk into a room, we start the exact same conversation from all those years ago. We are so in tune, in sync, like that first day of audition. That’s why Barbara Walters was so brilliant at knowing which people could express opinions and disagree without being obnoxious. That is something that was the secret sauce of the early days of The view. I desperately miss spending that time together. Yes, there are always ups and downs in television shows, but we are a family. We can talk about each other, but nobody better to say a damn thing about us. There is nothing that has made me happier in the last two weeks than sitting with Sherri on the set of her own show. She is one of the best talents. So I wish you the best. It’s so nice to see other women succeed. Everyone has been so supportive. The best compliment was from Joy. [Behar]. Privately, she said: “You were born to do this, girl, and we are all so proud of you.” It was a nice feeling to know that after all those years, we had each other’s back.
divorce courtMonday through Friday, syndicated, check local listings or visit divorcecourt.com.