Depending on who you talk to, Maury Povich is either one of the best talk show hosts on TV or a trashy exploiter. Povich had a long career in journalism before landing his talk show. It was initially supposed to be a modest show discussing current affairs. However, it evolved into something much less serious.
After seven years on the air, The Maury Povich show was rebranded to embrace the trashiest parts of talks shows. Povich faced going off the air or adapting to compete with The Jerry Springer Show. The rebranding worked, and he is finally saying goodbye to his series after 31 years on TV.
The End of an Era
In March 2022, Maury Povich announced that his series would end in the fall after 31 seasons. Formerly known as The Maury Povich Show, Maury became a daytime classic. Known for trademarks like “Who’s Your Daddy,” the series became a staple, and Povich turned into a pop culture icon.
The 83-year-old decided to retire six years after he first asked to end the show. Povich is ready to settle down, but many will miss the iconic series. Although he set out to produce a talk show to discuss social issues, Povich had to change the focus or face cancelation.
He Started as a Journalist
Born in 1939 in Washington DC, Povich was the second of Ethyl and Shirley Povich’s three children. His father was a sportswriter for the Washington Post, sparking Povich’s interest in journalism. After graduating from high school, he attended the prestigious University of Pennsylvania to earn a degree in television journalism.
It didn’t take long for Povich to land his first post-college job at WWDC, a Washington radio station. He worked as a reporter and did publicity, working his way up to become a news reporter and sportscaster in 1966. After earning national recognition for his talk show, Povich decided to leave Washington.
Full Circle Moment
After leaving Washington, Povich took his career to Chicago for a short-lived television job. He was the co-anchor for a nightly newscast, but Povich left after eight months after being promised a long-term contract that never came through. He then took his impressive credentials to a CBS-owned station in LA.
Povich worked alongside Connie Chung, but he was ousted after a six-month run due to the station’s new management. He moved to San Francisco and Philadelphia before bringing his career full circle and returning to Washington. He picked up his former hosting job on Panorama and anchored the evening news.
A Current Affair
For most of his early career, Povich focused on serious news. However, when Fox approached Povich to host A Current Affair in New York, he took the job. The show mainly reported on celebrity gossip, with a few human-interest stories thrown into the mix. Critics praised the show.
It was both entertaining and informational and was compared to a “good afternoon newspaper.” Povich hosted the show for four years until the series ended in 1990. Simultaneously, Povich had been an anchor for the seven o’clock newscast on WNYW. The following year, his career changed forever when he landed The Maury Povich Show.
He Had to Adapt
When The Maury Povich Show premiered in 1991, it aimed to tackle social issues of the day. Povich’s production company, MoPo Productions, produced the show in partnership with Paramount. Unfortunately, daytime television took a turn when The Jerry Springer Show became a hit.
Jerry Springer embraced the trashiest elements of talk shows, causing its ratings to skyrocket. People became more interested in people battling it out over love triangles than Oprah. As a result, Povich had to decide if he wanted to conform to the change or go off the air.
The Show Got a New Name
In 1998, the show’s name changed to Maury, and Studios USA took over production. Povich became public enemy number one to TV critics when the daytime talk show grew to popularity for the “Who’s Your Daddy” segment, revealing paternity results of in denial men on air.
The show would start with Povich and the guest discussing their concerns about adultery or paternity. Then the antagonist would walk out to a chorus of boos to tell their side of the story. The show would conclude with the “truth,” involving paternity or lie detector tests.
They Aren’t Actors
Believe it or not, the show’s guests are real people with real problems. Povich and the producers have always maintained that the guests and stories are true. While people have faked a few stories over the years, most people want Povich to actually help them.
During the show’s 31 seasons, there was an endless supply of people who had problems that Povich could help with. He gave people a free opportunity to get expensive DNA or lie detector tests to figure out the paternity of their child or reveal their partner’s infidelity.
Everyone Wanted to Be on the Show
It wasn’t hard for the producers to find guests because over 100 people would contact the show each week with a problem for Povich. Out of those 100, only ten people made it on to the show. The guests wanted answers to the biggest problems in their lives.
Additionally, those who didn’t live close to Stamford, Connecticut, where the show was filmed, would get a free plane trip and hotel stay to be on the show. The guests got the chance to rant and rave with the audience’s support, liberating their frustrations.
The Audience Is Coached
While there was an endless supply of guests, it was not easy to get an audience. How many people are free on a weekday morning? A former intern revealed that he had to stand outside the studio and pay people $5 or $10 to sit in the audience.
Once inside, audience members sit in a green room where reruns of Maury play on TVs. According to reports, some people would drink or smoke weed before the show started, explaining the rowdy behavior. They are then directed to their seats, and a warm-up coach gives directions.
A Baby Died
One of the biggest criticisms about Maury is the show’s test involving children. They can’t give consent like adults, so they have no choice but to be involved. This problem came to a head when a couple brought their eight-month-old baby to Connecticut to get a paternity test.
The night before the taping, the couple woke up to their daughter unresponsive, wedged between the bed and the wall. The baby’s death made the use of children even worse. It showed that those who get a paternity test on TV aren’t the best or most rational decision-makers.
Maury Wasn’t Liable
Although the baby’s death happened during the couple’s trip to the show, Maury wasn’t responsible for the death. The problem was that the baby shouldn’t have been sleeping in the bed with her parents. She fell off the bed while they were asleep.
However, if the parents hadn’t gone to the show to conduct a paternity test, their child’s death could have been avoided. It drew a lot of criticism and made people rethink the show’s concept. When has it ever been a good idea to air dirty laundry on national TV?
The Show Caused Assaults
Povich and the producers pride themselves on the fact that guests don’t get physically violent with each other. If fights break out, they are broken up by security quickly. However, the guests’ stories can lead to serious problems before and after the show.
There is a counselor on the show, but long-term counseling is not offered. Guests’ lives can be destroyed on the show if they find out the kids they have been raising aren’t theirs or their partner slept with someone else. Therefore, fights have broken out before and after taping.
Two Guests Were Arrested
There have been several incidents of police arresting Maury guests at hotels in Stamford. This includes John Coley and Shantae McGhee-Brown, who didn’t even make it to the show. In April 2014, they flew to Connecticut and got in a physical fight before the taping.
They fought because McGhee-Brown found out that Coley had slept with her mother. They were arrested and spent the night in jail. Another man was arrested for beating and strangling his wife before hearing the paternity test results. A couple got into a fight while watching their pre-recorded episode.
Most Surprising Guests
Out of the thousands of episodes and guests, Povich shared who his most memorable guest was. Povich said a set of twins with different fathers were his most shocking guests in a Reddit thread. Surprisingly, this situation wasn’t a one-time occurrence on the show.
In 2008, Regina brought her ex-boyfriend Eric onto the show to determine if he was the father of her twins. The paternity test showed he was the father of only one. Povich was just as shocked as everyone else. It happened again in 2011.
She Tested 17 Men
While twins with different fathers were shocking for Povich, many viewers remembered one particular guest for how many men she thought were the father of her daughter. Sholanda tested 17 men to find the father of her daughter, Kayla. None of them were a match.
Marisol also tested 17 men to determine the paternity of her six children. Out of those men, she only found matches for three of her children. Additionally, a woman named Kim tested ten men to find the father of her two children, and none of them matched.
Two-Day Work Week
While most of us work five days a week for at least nine hours a day, Povich only works two days a week. He tapes three shows on Thursday and two shows on Friday. Filming starts at 6:45 AM and ends around 2:30-3:00 PM.
That seems like a pretty nice schedule for only two days of work. Povich had definitely worked hard to earn a two-day workweek, but how can you not be slightly jealous? Meanwhile, Povich feels like he works too much for someone his age.
Too Much Work?
Although he only works two days a week, Povich feels that he has a heavy workload. While he is putting in a lot more hours than most people in their eighties, he seems a bit disconnected from the concerns of the average person.
The “tough hours” were one of the reasons why Povich wanted to retire after so many years. He said he is ready to go into assisted living at this point in his life. Whether he was joking or not, Povich wanted to end the show several years ago.
He Wanted to End It
Six years ago, Povich told NBC he was ready to retire. However, they asked him to continue the show. He agreed to one more deal out of respect for NBC, the staff, and crew members. Povich is proud of everyone who has worked on the show, but he is ready to end it.
During Season 29, Povich and NBC executive vice president Tracie Wilson confirmed that the show would end after Season 31. Although it is a bittersweet departure, Wilson said everyone is happy to see him spend more time on the golf course.
Part of Their Family
Povich has been on TV for many years, and he feels like he is part of the viewers’ families. In an interview with Business Insider, Povich said, “Either through instinct or just basic human considerations, my guests and viewers felt that I was part of their family.”
While Povich doesn’t know his viewers on a personal level, and they don’t know his experiences, there is some truth to his statements. He comes across as paternalistic on the show, and many tune in to watch him religiously. It will be a loss when he leaves.
Diverse Guests and Audience
One thing Povich is proud of is the diversity of his guests and audience members. Diverse guests have been a major part of Maury since it premiered. It has also drawn in a diverse group of viewers. His show isn’t groundbreaking, but he is still proud of his accomplishments.
People of all different ages and backgrounds have watched Povich over the past 31 years. He appeals to every kind of viewer. It is one of the longest-running daytime shows, after all.
That’s a Lot to Remember
Each week, Povich has to remember the personal details of between 30 to 40 guests. Most of us can barely remember what we ate this morning. Povich probably never misses a birthday or anniversary. It’s not easy to retain all that information, but Povich enjoys it.
Beyond his duties as the host, Povich jokingly calls his job an “Alzheimer’s check.” If he can remember everything at his age, he feels like his brain is pretty healthy. We would have to agree, but he has been practicing this for years.
The Same Stage
The Maury stage sees a lot of action, considering it is used by Povich’s show along with The Jerry Springer Show and The Steve Wilkos Show. All three have a similar format and have been on TV for several years. That stage has seen a lot of catfights and arguments.
While Povich has worked a “grueling” two-day week, his peers only use the stage one day per week. We hope the Stamford Center for the Arts is used for more culturally enlightening things the other three days of the week.
Jerry Springer Is a Fan
Jerry Springer might have a similar show, but he prefers Povich’s show to his own. According to a candid interview with Springer, he feels that Povich deals with serious issues and called his show a “total circus,” claiming there aren’t “redeeming social values on our show.”
It was quite humble of Springer to share those thoughts in an interview. His comments could have pushed his audience to watch Maury instead, but their shows are essential for daytime viewing to millions of people. Springer fans are quite loyal.
Lie Detectors Are a Key Component
According to the show’s producers, Maury would be nothing without the lie detector tests. The tests have been a crucial component in Povich’s conclusions. One producer went as far as saying the show would be “stupidity” without the lie detector tests.
The moments with the lie detectors elevate the show and rile up the audience and the guests. While a lie detector test is not admissible in court, it is a qualifying piece of evidence on Maury. The tests help take a conflict to a highly resolvable point of fact.
Brings Families Together
It might seem odd to say that Maury brings families together, considering the show sometimes rips couples apart by revealing infidelity. However, Povich said, “I like to do the show; I think we do some good; I think we bring families together.”
While he might have been talking about families coming together to watch the show, his program still makes people sit down and solve their issues or watch other people fix their problems. Regardless, Povich has done a great service to families across the nation.
Inspired by a Current Affair
When he worked on A Current Affair, Povich’s first big story was about Baby M. The strange case captured the nation’s attention in the ‘80s when a couple paid Mary Elizabeth Whitehead to be their surrogate. But after delivering Baby M, Whitehead didn’t want to give the baby away.
Whitehead decided the baby was hers, and the couple had to steal their child. A judge ruled that the baby belonged to the couple. The episode of A Current Affair about Baby M inspired several Maury episodes about paternity.
He Is Genuinely Concerned
Many of the guests on Maury have stories that would concern even the coldest people, and Povich has a soft spot for the people on his show. Former Maury employee Brian Unger said, “He is very paternal. I think that quality comes through in his television personality.”
Unger described Povich as “everybody’s daytime dad.” It fits him because Povich doesn’t judge his guests and tries to get to the bottom of their problems fairly with a sense of humor. He genuinely wants to help those who need it.
Paternity Episodes Are Popular
Some of the most memorable episodes of Maury have been those that revolve around paternity. Therefore, it’s not surprising that they are the most popular ones to watch. Why would the producers continue to allow them if they didn’t bring in great ratings?
Maury’s paternity episodes have all the lies and drama of a great soap opera without the need for cheesy acting or a script. The show probably would have been canceled years ago if the episodes didn’t appeal to daytime audiences. Who knew a paternity case could be so entertaining?
Exploitative or Not?
Shows like Maury, Jerry Springer, and Steve Wilkos have been accused of exploiting their guests. Critics of Maury feel the show preys on people’s personal issues while making them look dysfunctional and foolish. However, Povich sees things differently than his critics.
Povich responded to his critics by saying, “I think we’ve made a difference in people’s lives some of the time. Not for all guests, but for some. I’ll take that trade in terms of being accused of exploitation.” People willingly sign up for the show, knowing what will happen.
He Feels Like Shakespeare
William Shakespeare is one of the greatest writers in history. Taking inspiration from Shakespeare is one thing but comparing one’s work directly to his takes a lot of confidence. Povich apparently has that confidence.
Povich has said that his show has “all of the classic Shakespearean themes, including love, dislike, and pain.” He thinks this gives his show a “chance to capture an audience.” It’s a bit of a stretch, but the episodes are more than dramatic.
Like a Billy Joel Concert
Some shows that follow the same format can feel repetitive after a while. It might be hard to surprise the audience with a show that has had 31 seasons. Critics of Maury have had those complaints, but the producers designed it to be repetitive.
One of the producers equated the show to a Billy Joel concert, explaining, “No one wants to go to a Billy Joel concert and hear all new songs. You want to hear the hits.” The producers want theaudience to know what they are getting while keeping the show entertaining.
He’s Proud of It
After 31 years on the air, Povich’s show has garnered a loyal fanbase despite its negative reputation. One critic said, “Povich’s talk show is without a doubt the worst thing on television. Period.” Those Shakespearean elements haven’t convinced everyone that Maury is a work of art.
Regardless of what everyone says, Povich is proud of his work over the past three decades. He said some of his former colleagues have called him to say he could have been a great newsman and done better things, but he doesn’t care.
He Covered a Historical Event
Long before Povich told people they are or aren’t the father, he reported on the March on Washington. The March, where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech, was a turning point in American history.
He didn’t get to see MLK Jr., but he was assigned to cover people protesting the March. Povich’s former colleagues must compare the work he once did to what he is doing now, and it makes sense why they think he could have done more with his career.
A Certain Demographic
Based on Maury’s studio audience, his target demographic are elderly and young people. The diversity of the guests could be attributed to the diverse audience, but it doesn’t explain the large age gap. These two groups bond over their love of Maury when they attend live tapings.
Usually, a show appeals to one demographic or becomes successful because people from all demographics embrace it. However, it’s hard to figure out why these two very different age groups share a love for Maury. Maybe they are the only people available to be in the audience.
They Have a Private Investigator
Those who work on Povich’s show aren’t taken seriously by many critics, but that doesn’t stop them from taking their jobs seriously. For example, the show hired private investigator Wendy Kleinknecht to uncover all the information that makes each episode exciting.
Kleinknecht can easily say that she has the most bizarre yet interesting job. She could entertain a room for hours with all her stories about people she investigates for the show. However, there is probably a confidentiality agreement that prevents her from telling everything.
Not a Bad Salary
For someone who only works two days a week, Povich gets paid a hefty salary that is well over $5 million a year. While golfing with Povich, CBS analyst Gary McCord tried to coyly find out how much the daytime host made per year.
McCord said, “Maury. I’ve watched your show. I wouldn’t do that show for $5 million a year.” Povich hilariously replied, “Neither would I!” He didn’t share his exact salary, but it’s easy to assume the host gets paid well for his short work week.
He Doesn’t Want to Be on TV Again
Now that Povich announced his retirement from Maury, many wonder what he will do next. Unfortunately for his fans, Povich is ready to say goodbye to the cameras and put his career behind him. He once said he wouldn’t be on TV again after leaving the show.
While some actors and TV personalities work till their very last days, Povich is more than ready for retirement. He could easily get a job in news, but we doubt he would have such a lenient schedule with the kind of lucrative salary as he has now.
He Worked With His Wife
In 1984, Povich married his second wife, Connie Chung. The two met while working in the news department at WTTG. While he was working on Maury, Povich and Chung had a short-lived weekend news program called Weekends With Maury and Connie.
Unfortunately, it was canceled after a few months due to low ratings. People must have thought he was better suited for outing cheaters rather than hosting a wholesome program with his wife. Although the program didn’t work, their marriage has lasted for almost 40 years.
He Has Three Children
Povich married his first wife, Phyllis Minkoff, in 1962. They had two daughters during their 17-year marriage: Susan Anne and Amy Joyce. When Povich remarried, he and Chung decided to adopt a son, Matthew Jay, in 1995. He loves all three of his children equally.
Povich and Chung tried to have a biological child but dealt with several miscarriages. Povich has done his best to keep his children out of the public eye. He rarely shared pictures of Matthew to protect his son’s privacy, and he doesn’t talk about his family much.
He’s Worth a Lot
The 83-year-old has worked hard to accumulate a net worth of $80 million. Povich has been in the media industry since 1962, meaning he has spent over half of his life working to become the iconic figure he is today.
With a high salary and side projects, he has earned millions over the years. In 2000, he hosted a short-lived revival of the classic game show Twenty One on NBC, and he launched a weekly print and online newspaper in Flathead County, Montana, where he has a vacation home.
Time to Hit the Golf Course
Now that Povich is retiring, he is excited to spend more time on the golf course. He has been playing since he was a child and hasn’t slowed down. Povich is a frequent player at Pebble Beach, Torrey Pines, Farm Neck, and Old Course in Scotland.
When Povich has the time, he plays in amateur senior tournaments, and he was named among the top 100 celebrity golfers in 2007 by Golf Digest. We can expect to see Povich spend most of his time on the green now that he is almost done with his show.