Last year when his pilot aired on 10, Kyle Sandilands made plenty of derisive comments about Trial By Kyle and expressed no interest in the show proceeding to series.
Normally that’s the kind of attitude that cops a spray from network execs or gets your show cancelled.
But Kyle Sandilands is hired for his no-filter personality and controversial comments generate their own publicity.
Fast-forward to 12 months later and he’s had a change of heart. Stop press. Kyle has come to like his own show.
“I didn’t want to do this show in the first place. It’s a pain in the arse filming all day Saturday and Sunday and then working 5 days a week,” he tells TV Tonight.
“I never wanted to do it. It wasn’t my idea and my company doesn’t own it, so what the f*** am I doing it for? To make some other company shitloads of money?”
The Screentime series, which bears a striking resemblance to Judge Judy, sees the radio host mediate civil cases in a faux courtroom set. When it screened as part of 10’s 2018 Pilot Week it divided viewers, which is par for the course for the seasoned shock jock.
“I wasn’t thrilled with the pilot because they squeezed too many cases into it”
“I wasn’t thrilled with the pilot because they squeezed too many cases into it and they do what TV does all the time: edit for time rather than for content. When there were 4 cases in the pilot it was far better but they squeezed an extra 2 in there. I thought ‘Typical TV, you’ve gone and f***ed it up!’” he explains.
“I would sometimes film a case for an hour, because we were rushing the pilot too much. And there were too many ‘TV losers’ on. Little tryhards from other shows. So I said ‘Let’s forget about that rubbish. Let’s do more real cases that are serious.’ Even though they still feel quite petty like Judge Judy.
“If someone was on there just to get noticed I would stop filming it”
“If someone was on there just to get noticed I would stop filming it and say ‘Let’s f*** these people off.’ They’re not here for the right reason.”
Participants have signed a contract agreeing to abide by Sandilands’ verdict. In the US producers of Judge Judy also pay the costs of civil cases. It can be a cheap monetary way out of a lawsuit for the humiliation of a dressing down on TV.
“I’m not privy to the exact deal but it’s a similar situation to that. They’re more likely to be lured onto TV and look like a bit of a dope,” he continues.
“But you never know how it’s going to go. I think a lot of people come to the court thinking they know what I will or will not do.”
So what made him agree to a season of episodes?
“Just gigantic amounts of money. That’s the honest truth,” he admits.
“My heart wasn’t to be judgmental judge on TV, wasting many weekends putting it together. But once we got rid of the Santa Claus suit and put a real seat in, and a few other adjustments, it’s much better.
“I wanted real cases, no actors, none of that bullshit these shows do”
“I said ‘Let’s get rid of the hokey stuff.’ If I can see that it’s phony and rubbish, so can anyone watching. I wanted real cases, no actors, none of that bullshit these shows do. ‘If we can’t treat it real, I’m not doing it.’
“So they agreed to all my terms and then halfway through the first day of filming I felt like I belonged on the judging bench my whole life. Because I’m quite judgmental in real life!
“I wasn’t about making jokes and trying to take the piss. There’s a bit of that but I wanted to get to the bottom of the truth.
“Usually I’m looking for the cheap laugh. Which I still do by default, but I really wanted to make sure I got a full understanding of what each case is about -even if it was dumb.”
“I hope what we’ve done people like. I even like it, and I started off hating it.”
As for his interest in how his show rates, he is again non-plussed.
“Someone will bring it to my attention. I hope it does well in the demos for Channel 10’s sake. But I don’t know what it’s up against. I hope what we’ve done people like. I even like it, and I started off hating it.”
I advise he is against Love Island, which he doesn’t consider much of a threat.
“I love Sophie and I like Love Island, but even I turned it off halfway last night.”
Sandilands, who together with Jackie O, has reportedly signed a $50m radio deal over six years, also says the big bucks are not earned in TV but radio. And he’s not busting to do TV.
“I earned a million dollars to do 3 months work on Australian Idol. So of course I loved it. But I was earning $4m a year from radio. When you are successful on radio you are leaps and bounds ahead of the highest paid person on TV. You’d think you would get more on TV because it’s more glamorous. But it’s a shit-paying job compared to radio if you’re doing well. So why bother wasting my life filming rubbish TV that does nothing for me or that I‘m not passionate about?” he asks.
“If they wanted to do another one I would probably say yes.”
“So I wasn’t passionate about this until I got into it. If they wanted to do another one I would probably say yes. A year ago I was bitching and complaining, but after I made some adjustments I was really happy with it.”
Sandilands has also produced Meet the Hockers for 9GO! and is developing an extreme property series, potentially for 10. But he remains selective about further TV pursuits.
“I’ve had a couple of development deals offered from the big production companies. But to align to one production company for a development deal has to be worth a substantial amount of money for me to put all my eggs in one basket. So there’s a couple on the desk for me to look through.
“People want me to do it, I just don’t know if I give a shit enough.”
“People want me to do it, I just don’t know if I give a shit enough. I only want to do things I’m really passionate about.
“I’d like to do a variety show, but that doesn’t seem to float in this country for some reason. And I’ve talked to Channel 10 about a Friday night weekly show. But then I’d have to be in Australia every Friday night and I live half the year in America.
“I’ve always liked the Letterman sort of shows, but Rove’s given it a crack here and even he can’t make it work.
“But I’ll open my arse up for any of the networks, I’m not just all about 10.”
Trial By Kyle 8:40pm Thursday on 10.