The Steve Wilkos Show is a syndicated American tabloid talk show hosted by Steve Wilkos. The show debuted on September 10, 2007, two months after Wilkos' departure as director ofsecurity on The Jerry Springer Show.
The show has Wilkos expanding on his successful "Steve to the Rescue" shows that he did while serving as a cohost for Jerry Springer whenever Springer took breaks or was doing other projects, such as Dancing with the Stars. The idea of Wilkos having his own show came as a result of this approach, which proved to be so popular with viewers that the producers ofSpringer pitched the idea of giving Wilkos his own show to NBCUniversal, which proved successful. On his show, each episode of the show focuses on the topics usually addressed by this type of talk show, mainly involving adultery, domestic abuse, paternity, disrespectful children and teenage pregnancy, with other topics of the same genre also covered often.
As noted, Wilkos' show deals with more serious topics than Springer usually covers, most involving criminal justice issues. Wilkos will often refuse to allow guests accused of misbehavior, convicted of certain crimes (especially sex offences and spousal/child abuse) to sit down in the chairs on his soundstage. Wilkos will sometimes toss these chairs aside when he is angry and for dramatic effect. (At times he has also thrown the chairs, thereby breaking them.) He often notes in his show that the reason he does so is because when the accused committed the crime against the victim, they weren't making them "comfortable" and as such, they don't deserve to be "comfortable" while on his show. Irrespective of any heinous behavior, Steve typically lets pregnant women and teenagers sit on his stage.
Wilkos often gets into close confrontations with guests by not letting them have a seat and raising his voice, but avoids physical contact with them unless necessary to defend himself or other guests. When a guest begins to explain their actions in greater detail, Steve will often ignore and shout over the top of them. When guests get aggressive, Wilkos has threatened them with arrest. When guests flee backstage to try to get away from Wilkos, he often follows them and continues the confrontations. Almost always, when Steve has had enough of a particular guest, he will throw the guest off the stage, yelling "Get off my stage!", and with increasing frequency, will have them forcibly removed from the studio as well. On rare occasions, Wilkos would even throw guests out of the building.
Polygraph exams are commonly used on the show, as means for resolving issues. Often guests are polygraphed in regards to cases of physical abuse, child molestation, rape and murder. When the results of a polygraph are disputed by an accused guest, Steve brings out the show's polygraph expert, Daniel Ribacoff to explicate the results and clarify how a polygraph works. Guests usually take the polygraph exam three times or more to ensure accuracy of the results.
The show was parodied on The Boondocks episode "The Story of Lando Freeman".
In the show's first season, Wilkos frequently closed episodes with readings of both positive and negative e-mails he received from viewers. He would preface the readings by saying, "If I read your letter, and if you're not a knucklehead, moron or belly-rubber, I'll send you a free t-shirt." He also proclaimed his show to be "Moron-Free TV", and declared that those who sent him negative e-mails were "not allowed to watch". Since the second season, these readings are less frequent, Wilkos no longer uses the "knucklehead," "moron," "belly-rubber" or "Moron-Free TV" labels, and everyone who has their e-mail read gets the free t-shirt.
Also in the second season, Wilkos began dividing some episodes into two segments, each one dealing with different guests and issues. In rare cases, there can be three segments on one episode.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, executive producer Richard Dominick was forced from the program by Springer and NBCU Domestic Television after encouraging Wilkos to become extremely physical with a guest. Rachelle Wilkos, Wilkos's wife and a long time Springer crew member, is now the program's executive producer.
Wilkos' third season premiered September 14, 2009, now originating from the Stamford Media Center in Stamford, Connecticut complete with a new studio. Fellow NBC-Universal talkersMaury and Springer made the move, as well. On October 25, 2010, it was announced that his show was picked up by NBCUniversal through the 2013-14 season.
Wilkos' fifth season premiered September 19, 2011, debuting new graphics.
On September 17, 2012, The Steve Wilkos Show began airing in widescreen in conjunction with its 6th season premiere. It is still broadcasting 480i standard definition.