I confess that one of my favorite television shows was the old People’s Court. The original show was an instant classic. The Judge never took any grief or guff from the Plaintiffs or Defendants and watching him blow-up at them in anger was a delight to behold daily.
The New People’s Court
There’s a new People’s Court in town these days and it’s re-vamped from a 30 minute closed-door format, to a sprawling 60-minute extravaganza that includes in-studio anchor Carol Martin, “Lawyer On The Street” Harvey Levin, Internet Broadcasting and Web Polls. The original judge is gone and his replacement is the former mayor of New York City, Ed Koch. The New People’s Court is a rather sad and lame imitation of the original. Koch’s personality (his calling card and his cudgel) is missing from the show. Koch instead tries to wrangle with the participants on their level instead of bringing them up to his greater position with the force and braggadocio that native New Yorkers have come to love and expect from him.
Without Koch’s usual fiery personality blasting the Plaintiffs and Defendants, The People’s Court comes off cold and boring. The show is also much too long and the People’s Corner where everyday New Yorkers yell and scream their street opinions to lawyer Harvey Levin is too grating and unsatisfying to ponder any longer.
Judge Judy Does It Better
Judge Judy does a much better job improving upon the original high water mark set by the first People’s Court by giving us a judge who imposes her high standards and morals from the bench in a delightful and entertaining manner. But this article isn’t a review of Judge Judy or of The New People’s Court — this article is an open upbraiding of a sexist and unapologetic statement made by Co-Executive Producer and On-Air Legal Anchor Harvey Levin against The New People’s Court Officer of the Court, Josephine Ann Longobardi.
Cute and “Bailiff-Licious”
Levin put his foot in his mouth last week while The New People’s Court took a week-long, behind-the-scenes, look at how the show works. In a profile of Ms. Longobardi, Mr. Levin summed up his thoughts on her by saying she was “cute and Bailiff-Licious.” Levin then smiled (or sneered) into the camera. Your interpretation of the expression punctuating his statement about Longobardi is a deciding factor in how you read the intended tone of “cute and Bailiff-Licious.” I believe Levin openly and indignantly sneered.
The Public Speaks
Well, I wasn’t alone. Viewers from across the country dove into the fray and e-mailed The New People’s Court and told Levin his comments were sexist. Even co-host Carol Martin demanded an on air apology today from Levin to Longobardi. Levin flat-out refused to do so because he “doesn’t believe in Political Correctness” and he can speak his mind and call Longobardi “cute and Bailiff-Licious” if he so chooses.
What Levin misses, for all his legal and scholarly training, is this: He weakens and insults Ms. Longobardi’s long and important career as a Court Officer with his “politically incorrect” remark. Levin belittles Longobardi by verbally patting her on the head with faint, paternal, praising of her beauty and sexuality while not crediting the works of her soul and sprit. Levin boxes Longobardi into a superficial label she did not earn, nor deserve.
Stand Up for Ms. Longobardi
In an attempt to make Mr. Levin see the full light of a modern day world, I sent the following e-mail message to The New People’s Court in support of Ms. Martin and Ms. Longobardi.
Harvey is wrong. His comment was sexist and he can certainly speak his mind, but he cannot run from his extreme and unapologetic sexism.
We look to him to be impartial — a journalistic voice of reason and, like it or not — [the] overarching morality on the show. That is the public interest vested in him in his role on The [New] People’s Court.
When Harvey asked [Ms. Martin] about Arthur Kent being “The Scud Stud” — he misses the point. Sure that’s sexist to say about Arthur Kent, but if HARVEY had said that about Arthur Kent in his role with the People’s court, he’d be in the same boiling hot tub of oil of public scorn in which he is frying now!
Rosie O’Donnell and her Tom Cruise comments? That’s an excuse for Harvey’s behavior? Please! If Harvey can’t see that is the role Ms. O’Donnell plays on her chat show (idolizing stars as she wishes to be idolized by her viewers) then you need to get Harvey off the show since he is not up to the task of ringing personal insight nor of high-ground moral and professional integrity that we watchers of the [New]Peoples’ Court demand in the role he plays.
Levin Refuses to Back Down
The really amazing part of this whole story is Levin’s total incapacity to see that he has damaged Longobardi’s reputation and good standing in the community with his refusal to apologize for his public airing of sexist comments against her. Levin has publicly held this stance for over a week without a nibble of regret! Perhaps Longobardi should ask Ed Koch to decide the matter on-the-air in a session of The New People’s Court! That would at least give her a public forum in which to earn back a sliver of her good name.
Better yet, let the Court of Public Opinion hang Levin on the petard of his own words. Only then will Levin begin to feel the burn and tightness of swallowing his own false pride. Only then will Ms. Josephine Ann Longobardi begin to re-claim her reputation as a respected Court Officer that she fought so hard to earn on her own terms of good deeds and outstanding service. Only then will Justice be served.