Jerry Springer, <EM>America's Got Talent</EM> Jerry Springer, America's Got Talent

Come one, come all! Jerry Springer the ringleader talks to TV Guide about helming NBC's great talent-show circus, America's Got Talent (premiering tonight at 9 pm/ET).

TV Guide: Lawyer. Mayor. Talk-show host. Dancer. Like Madonna, you keep reinventing yourself. Why?
Jerry Springer:
I keep hearing that. It used to be, "Hey, man, I like your show." Now it's "I loved you on Dancing with the Stars." I was just a basic old schlub like everybody else, trying to dance. I think that surprised people.

TV Guide: Now you're the new host of America's Got Talent. How has the latest rendition of Jerry Springer been received?
[Laughs] Suddenly it's "good old Jerry." [Since] Dancing with the Stars, the networks have put their arms around me, and that is terribly different. ABC offered me prime-time shows.

TV Guide: What do you like about hosting Talent?
This is my kind of show. I enjoy talking to regular people. I don't know any celebrities — except to wave to them. I don't travel in those circles. I have been on TV for 30 years, and I don't think in the history of television there has ever been anyone who has spoken on air to so many nonfamous people.

TV Guide: What's the most important thing you've learned from talking to all those people?
We are all alike. I am certain of this. I have never met a person who could not be on my show.

TV Guide: You attended the Talent auditions in Texas. Any standouts?
We had this sweet 80-year-old grandmother pass through. She was funny. She had been in a movie with Shirley Temple, and she could sing. There was also a rock group I loved — three boys and a girl who are 15 or 16 years old. They do songs from the '50s but with their own modern-day style. We also had a bus driver who sang and was excellent.

TV Guide: Are there any changes you would make to the audition process?
I think sometimes the judges are too rough on children. Piers [Morgan] reduced a 6-year-old girl to tears, saying, "You are not as good as Beyoncé, you don't look like her, and, frankly, your mother probably pushed you out there." First, you do not attack a 6-year-old. You also can't invite [kids] on the show and then attack them for coming. That is too much pressure. I went out on the stage and said, "Stop it! That's wrong."

TV Guide: What about the other judges? There's a rumor that David Hasselhoff was drunk on the set. True?
Piers and David are at each other's throats — that is true. It is unbelievable. I don't think they can stand each other. I think a lot of it is for the show.

TV Guide: Let's get back to the original question  —  was Hasselhoff drunk on the set?
Drunk? No. I have never seen that. And that is god's truth. That is a total shock.

TV Guide: So what's Hasselhoff like on the set?
David is David. The joke around here is that he's always on "Planet Hoff." I don't think there are two sides to him. He's always just David, which is why it's like oil and water between Piers and him. If anyone could take the air out of a Hasselhoff, it would be Piers.

TV Guide: What about judge Sharon Osbourne, who reportedly had a meltdown?
So far she's been totally pleasant. People said ahead of time, "Oooh, Sharon.... " [He rolls his eyes] But she is just the sweetest and nicest. [On our show] she is the stability, which is kind of scary.

TV Guide: What does Talent say about our culture?
It is Americana. Some have talent and some don't. My message to them is, "Don't sweat it." Look how lucky I got, and I don't have any talent.

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