Ringmaster | Chicago Reader

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Even braver than it is brazen, this fiction features Jerry Springer as the host of a talk show much like the one he's infamous for. The other characters who assemble for a taping of The Jerry Show, a cathartic forum for personal confrontations, are first seen in the throes of the events that have made them eligible to participate. There's no doubt about this 1998 movie's agenda—in one behind-the-scenes scene a producer chastises a reporter waiting to interview the host, calmly suggesting that her discomfort with the show's content reveals a bigotry far more destructive than the aggressive behavior that routinely breaks out on the set. In defending Springer and shows like his, the movie displays unassailable logic, a sense of humor, an astonishing lack of defensiveness, and a compelling empathy for all of its characters, who are—just like the real people they represent—complex combinations of intelligence, compassion, selfishness, ambivalence, and the fear of being humiliated. Neil Abramson (Without Air) directed a screenplay by Jon Bernstein; with Jaime Pressly, Molly Hagan, and Michael Jai White.

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