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Former NY DA Pirro gets TV show

May 5, 2008 1:51:00 PM PDT
Former District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, rebounding from her recent personal and political problems, is becoming a judge - on a new court-type TV show that plans to make use of her considerable "life experience." The CW network announced Monday that Pirro, who has been doing legal commentary on television since the O.J. Simpson murder trial, will be the presiding jurist on "Judge Jeanine Pirro," weekday afternoons beginning Sept. 22.

"Everyone has had ups and down in their lives," Pirro said in a telephone interview. "The people who come to court want justice but they need a judge who understands those ups and downs."

Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president of Telepictures Productions, which is making the show, said Pirro has "a powerful and dynamic television presence with a distinctive point of view, and depth of professional and life experience."

She would not reveal Pirro's salary.

Pirro, 56, was once a rising star in New York's Republican Party. She was a popular Westchester County judge, a big winner in three consecutive runs for district attorney and was chosen for People magazine's "most beautiful" issue.

Analysts said she would have been a natural for higher office, except that her wealthy husband, Albert Pirro, seemed to have a knack for holding her back with his own problems, including a paternity suit and a federal tax-fraud conviction.

Jeanine Pirro took the plunge in 2005, deciding to challenge Hillary Rodham Clinton and run for the U.S. Senate. But her campaign opened disastrously when a page of her announcement was misplaced and she was speechless for 32 seconds. Pirro eventually switched to the race for state attorney general, but was easily defeated by Democrat Andrew Cuomo.

After she left office, her performance as district attorney was questioned. A convicted murderer, released due to new DNA evidence, claimed Pirro had turned a deaf ear to his claims of innocence, which she denied. And in another murder case, a federal judge found that Pirro's office had withheld evidence so important that the convicted killer deserved to be set free.

Meanwhile, Pirro came under federal investigation because she allegedly spoke with former New York City police Commissioner Bernard Kerik about how she could secretly record her husband when she suspected him of having an affair. No charges were filed against her.

Last November, the Pirros announced they were separating. Jeanine Pirro said Monday that although the new show will be produced in Chicago, she will not be moving from her Harrison home.

Court shows like "Judge Jeanine Pirro" - in which Pirro will adjudicate real-life disputes - have proliferated in recent years.

"Court shows have been reasonably successful, that's why there are so many," said Bill Carroll, an expert in the television syndication market for Katz Television. "Usually the ones that are most successful are the ones that have a distinctive personality. Certainly, by any judgment, Jeannine Pirro is a distinctive personality."

Ken Werner, president of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, which is distributing the show, said, "Although some think the genre is overcrowded, we believe viewers will flock to Jeanine, who is a fresh face with a distinctive voice."

Pirro's show may have an advantage, in that it will be on at the same time across many markets. Syndicated shows' scheduling is generally at the mercy of individual stations. But "Judge Jeanine Pirro" is not a syndication deal; Warner Bros. Television is providing two hours of programming for the CW to use each day.


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