You don’t get to a $47 million salary by playing softball.
During her testimony on a lawsuit between talent agency Rebel Entertainment Partners and CBS and “Judge Judy” production company Big Ticket Television, Sheindlin said:
“CBS had no choice but to pay me what I wanted because otherwise I could take it wherever I wanted to take it or do it myself.”
As for her salary “negotiations”? She’s a boss. Sheindlin goes to dinner with the president of the network and presents a take-it-or-leave-it deal.
“We sit across the table, and I hand him the envelope and I say, ‘Don’t read it now, let’s have a nice dinner. Call me tomorrow. You want it, fine. Otherwise, I’ll produce it myself,’” she said. “That’s the negotiation.”
Sheindlin’s words come as part of a lawsuit leveled by Rebel Entertainment Partners, claiming CBS and Big Ticket Television denied the agency profits.
Rebel is the successor-in-interest of the talent agency that packaged “Judge Judy” and is entitled to 5 percent of the show’s net profits. However, their agreement with CBS and Big Ticket Television allows the production company to deduct out-of-pocket production and distribution costs from the final net figure. Those costs include Sheindlin’s $47 million salary.
Rebel hasn’t received backend compensation since February 2010, a year after Sheindlin’s salary was upped to $45 million. The talent agency believes this was done deliberately to stop their payouts.
They pay me the money that they do because they have no choice. They can’t find another one. They’ve tried to find another Judy. Judy Sheindlin
Part of Sheindlin’s bargaining power is her ability to produce the show on her own if she doesn’t reach a satisfactory pay agreement with CBS. The TV star defended her high paycheck in court.
“They pay me the money that they do because they have no choice,” she said, per THR. “They can’t find another one. They’ve tried to find another Judy. If they find another Judy, good for them. So far they haven’t. [...] The ‘Judy’ program is all over the world, and even though they had to take a deep breath, they paid the money because they know otherwise. I’d take the same people with me that are producing the show now and I’d go and do it myself.”
A verdict has yet to be reached in the case.
In a statement to THR at the time the lawsuit was initially filed, Sheindlin had this to say:
The fact that Richard Lawrence [President of Rebel] is complaining about my salary is actually hilarious. I met Mr. Lawrence for 2 hours some twenty-one years ago. Neither I nor anyone involved in the day-to-day production of my program has heard from him in 20 years. Not a card, not a gift, not a flower, not a congratulations. Yet he has somehow received over $17,000,000 from my program. My rudimentary math translates that into $8,500,000 an hour for Mr. Lawrence. Not a bad payday. Now complaining about not getting enough money, that’s real chutzpah!
Oh, Judy, never change.