For Springer, small screen to big is just bad to worse

November 25, 1998|By Desmond Ryan | Desmond Ryan,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

"Ringmaster" offers the answer to a question that has stumped America: Is there anything more cynical, sleazy and appalling than Jerry Springer's TV show?

I'm afraid there is. It's a movie about Jerry Springer's TV show, or at least one just like it.

In "Ringmaster," actors and actresses play guests on the show. Since Springer has already been outed for using actors to play the just-regular-folks on his popular program, the kindest thing you can say about the movie is that it's redundant. It's also vulgar and words-fail-me stupid.

"Ringmaster" insists that there is a viable film in the fictional backgrounds of two groups of guests destined to be exploited during their 15 minutes of indecent exposure with the host and his viewers.

"Ringmaster" purports to address the question of why people go on the show, and it brands critics who savage Springer as elitists.

What it actually trots out is a backstage peep show that is -- I know this is hard to believe -- more gross and depressing than the one witnessed by 25 million viewers on a regular basis.

The film is cluelessly directed by Neil Abramson.

'Ringmaster'

Starring Jerry Springer

Directed by Neil Abramson

Released by Artisan Entertainment

Rated R (sex, profanity)

Running time 95 minutes

Sun score *

Pub Date: 11/25/98

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