Remember When Jenny Jones Went on Trial in Michigan?
There’s a new series on Netflix called 'Trial By Media' which is going to follow a few different high profile cases the media has covered. The show in which George Clooney and Jeffrey Toobin are executive producers will show how press coverage and the lawyers of 6 major court cases influenced the cases in court as well as the country’s attitude towards each case and crime, TIME reports.
The very first episode is covering a case that happened right here in Michigan and involved the Jenny Jones Show back in 1995. A case that would help make daytime television more ethically responsible.
Maybe you remember it being in the news. March 6, 1995, Scott Amedure and Jonathan Schmitz we’re invited onto the 'Jenny Jones Show' along with a female friend.
During the show, Scott confessed he had a crush on Jonathan who was a neighbor to the female friend. The producers of the show even had him reveal fantasies he had about Jonathan. While that was going on, Jonathan was backstage with headphones on, thinking he was there on the show because the female acquaintance was the one who had the secret crush on him.
When he came out on stage he was ambushed with the news of Scott’s crush. They even played back the fantasies Scott had shared before Jonathan had come on stage. According to encyclopedia.com Jonathan played it off well during the taping.
From a New York Times article written at the time of the murder, Lieut. Bruce Naile of the Oakland County Sheriff's Department told them,
"He was stunned, he had agreed to do the show. So he didn't know what to do or what his rights were. So he sat there and went along with it."
The three came home, back to Michigan. Three days later Jonathan still embarrassed about what went down, he found a note - as AJC.com reported, of a sexual nature - so he decided to buy a gun and kill Scott.
Wikipedia says that the two guys went out after the taping and something might have happened between the two guys, which is why the note was likely left at Jonathan’s House.
By the way, the episode never even aired.
Jonathan was sentenced to prison in 1996 and was released on parole in 2017.
The 'Jenny Jones Show' was taken to court by Scott’s family in a civil trial represented by Geoffrey Fieger, and he tried to prove that the show and producers were partially responsible for the murder, since they ambushed and embarrassed Jonathan, who, according to encyclopedia.com, had mental issues as well.
Of course Jenny and producers all denied that they had ambushed Jonathan and said that he knew it was a same-sex secret crush show.
As encyclopedia.com tells, Fieger even tried to prove how humiliating it all was by putting a producer on the stand and asking him to describe a sexual fantasy he’s had about his own wife. The producer wouldn't do it.
The jury would award Scott’s family $25 million, although they’d never see that according to Time, as another judge overturned the ruling later.
This is a crazy story that really highlighted just how trashy daytime television had become at one point - and is the first episode of ‘Trial By Media’ which is available now on Netflix.