What's the perfect way to end a made-for-TV marriage? Well, if you're famed Jason Johnson, the ex-Marine who got hitched to Bahraini princess Meriam Al-Khalifa, you go on Divorce Court.
Johnson filed for divorce from Al-Khalifa in November, five years after their fairy-tale wedding inspired an NBC movie and numerous TV appearances. The split prompted the invitation from Divorce Court, which the couple had regularly watched together.
"I thought I could get some useful insight from the judge for my [next marriage]," says Johnson, who will appear solo on the show January 31. "[Al-Khalifa] doesn't know that I did the show. She probably won't see it."
"My reaction [was] why is he coming and without the wife? How am I going to do this?" says Judge Mablean Ephriam, who normally referees for the couples who come before her to spar. "He doesn't know where she is. She left. He had asked her for the divorce and she signed [a summary dissolution agreement]. He used the media to help him before, so he felt he owed it to the media to give an explanation. He knew the truth would come out eventually."
So what useful insight did Johnson get? "My advice is, it was all fairy tale and romance," Judge Mablean explains. "It sounded great and wonderful, but it's unrealistic to believe you could be married to someone when you didn't really know each other and had those big cultural differences. Plus, she was running away — I think she was just going through her teenage rebellion period. He met her at that time.
"The grass always looks greener on the other side," she sums up. "I say, look deep before you leap. I'm impressed by the way he has grown up and realized he made some mistakes."This is Divorce Court's first high-profile breakup, but it may not be the last. "I'd love to have Britney and J.Lo before me," Judge Mablean jokes. "They need somebody to talk to. They're looking for love in all the wrong places."