Jerry Springer has been trying to expand his horizons beyond the controversial show that made him famous. His new show, Baggage, on the Game Show Network deals with a much lighter subject than the Jerry Springer Show. Baggage is a dating game show where contestants bring on a small bag, a medium bag and a large bag representing their personal baggage that may or may not entice the other contestants to choose them. If the contestant is not chosen they are dismissed with the catch phrase, “You just have too much baggage.” The new show may be light but controversy is still following the television star. Monday his long time producer, Jill Blackstone, was arrested as a suspect in her sister’s murder.
Blackstone called the police Saturday and told them that her sister, Wendy, had committed suicide. Wendy was found in the garage of the home that she and Blackstone resided in together. The garage was full of carbon monoxide and Blackstone herself was hospitalized for two days for carbon monoxide poisoning and arrested upon her release from the hospital. TMZ has reported that the police stated to them that the scene looked to have been staged. There was a suicide note found at the scene but the police think that the letter was written by Blackstone and not by Wendy.
Wendy, 49, was deaf and partially blind. The authorities have not yet determined cause of death but the victim was declared dead at the scene of her San Fernando, California home. The garage was filled with carbon monoxide and there was a barbecue grill at the victim’s feet. There is no word on the source of the carbon monoxide.
Blackstone was released without paying her million-dollar bail because the authorities determined that the case should be returned to the LAPD for further investigation. The police have stated that this is an ongoing investigation. The body of Wendy Blackstone showed no signs of trauma although the coroner is doing a toxicology test. Blackstone is still under investigation for murder but no longer in custody.
Springer, who worked with Blackstone in the 90’s, was once a mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio and before the Jerry Springer Show was also a news anchor, an actor and a musician. The Jerry Springer show debuted on September 30, 1991 as a copy of the Phil Donahue show. The show was first formatted as a political talk show with guests like Oliver North and Jesse Jackson. The ratings were not that good and the show was reformatted in 1994 to the more controversial format. The ratings flew through the roof and the show was doing better than the Oprah Winfrey Show in many cities. The Jerry Springer Show is not the only show that Blackstone worked on. She was also a producer on the Rosie O’Donnell Show, Dr. Drew and several court television shows.
The murder case of the Jerry Springer producer is not the first instance of murder to follow the show. In 2002 the sons of Nancy Campbell-Panitz sued Springer, his producers and his distributer. Her ex-husband murdered Campbell-Panitz after an appearance on the Jerry Springer Show. Campbell-Panitz appeared on the show with her ex-husband and his new wife/former mistress. The survivors of Campbell-Panitz stated that Springer provided a situation and mood that led to murder. The estate of Campbell-Panitz eventually dropped the suit against Springer and the show.
By Deneishia Jacobpito
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