It’s never a good idea to mess with a judge, especially when it comes to money matters.
CBS announced Tuesday afternoon that it cancelled long-running courtroom series Judge Joe Brown after its titular star refused to accept a cut in his $20 million salary.
With ratings for the series down in all categories from this time last year, CBS was looking to trim a few numbers off the honourable judge’s paycheque to compensate for the slide, but according to The Hollywood Reporter, Brown was having none of that. Probably because, despite losing close to a million viewers in a one-year span, Judge Joe Brown is still the second-highest rated courtroom show, trailing only the famed Judge Judy.
Back in February of last year, Joe Brown was pulling 4.1 million viewers per day on average. This February, he averaged just 3.4 million daily viewers, while Judy brought in 10.5 million. The most significant ratings dip for Brown, however, came in the key 25-54 demo for daytime shows, which dropped 15 per cent to a lowly 1.1.
In all fairness to Brown, his show is not the only one dealing with a ratings slide. Besides Judge Judy, every courtroom series has experienced a dip in its ratings this season, some as much as 20 per cent. The determining factor for Brown’s proposed pay cut wasn’t so much the loss of viewers, however, as it was the steep drop he took in the key demo. That’s the number networks use to determine how much they can charge advertisers, and since Brown‘s dropped quite a bit, CBS was looking to recover some of the money they would lose on advertising from Brown’s paycheque.
Following a breakdown in negotiations and the aforementioned cancellation, CBS issued this statement: “We would like to thank Joe for 15 great years, as well as executive producer John Terenzio and the entire staff for all their hard work and dedication to the show.”
CBS had discussions with Fox, the network on which Joe Brown airs, about replacing the show with one headlined by Indiana’s Judge Geoffrey Gaither, but Fox wasn’t too keen on the substitution and decided to pass.
Before crossing over to TV, Brown was a criminal courts judge in Shelby County, Tennessee, where he presided over the appeals case of Martin Luther King Jr.’s murderer, James Earl Ray. Although he was removed from the case over suspicions of bias, he did enough to draw the attention of producers on Judge Judy, a fellow CBS production, and eventually land his own series.
Brown isn’t the first African American judge to appear on TV, but he has held that mantle the longest. Judge Joe Brown debuted in 1998, and it will continue to run new and repeat episodes into September before finally shutting down.
Brown has no intention of exiting television alongside his series, though. In fact, he’d like to continue it on another network, and he’s had a few talks with Entertainment Studios — who airs three different courtroom shows of its own — about doing just that. Whether or not they can afford Brown’s services is another question.
Judge Joe Brown airs weekday mornings at 2 a.m. ET on Omni1.