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The People's Court

The People's Court
Genre Reality court show
Created by John Masterson
Presented by Doug Llewelyn (1981–93, 2016–present)
Harvey Levin (1997–present)
Judges Joseph Wapner (1981–93)
Ed Koch (1997–99)
Jerry Sheindlin (1999–2001)
Marilyn Milian (2001–present)
Narrated by Jack Harrell (1981–93)
Curt Chaplin (1997–present)
Theme music composer Alan Tew (1981–present)
Opening theme "The Big One" (1981–93)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 12 (original series)
20 (revived series)
32 (overall)
Executive producer(s) Ralph Edwards
Stu Billett
Location(s) Manhattan Mall
New York City, New York
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 22 minutes (1981–93)
44 minutes (1997–present)
Production company(s) Ralph Edwards Productions (1981–87)
Stu Billett Productions (1981–87)
Ralph Edwards-Stu Billett Productions (1987–93; 1997–present)
Distributor Telepictures Corporation (1981–86) (seasons 1-5)
Lorimar-Telepictures (1986–89) (seasons 6-8)
Warner Bros. Television Distribution (1989–93; 1997–present) (seasons 8-12; season 1-present)
Original network Syndicated
Picture format SDTV 480i (1981–present)
Aspect ratio:
4:3 (1981–2012)
16:9 (2012–present)
Audio format Stereo
Original release Original series: September 14, 1981 (1981-09-14) – May 17, 1993 (1993-05-17)
Revived series: September 8, 1997 (1997-09-08) – present
External links

The People's Court is an American arbitration-based reality court show presided over by retired Florida State Circuit Court Judge Marilyn Milian (her 15th season as the show's arbitrator by September 7, 2015). Milian, the show's longest-reigning arbiter, handles small claims disputes in a simulated courtroom set.

The People's Court is the first court show to use binding arbitration, introducing the format into the genre in 1981. The system has been duplicated by most of the show's successors in the judicial genre. Moreover, The People's Court is the first popular, long-running reality in the judicial genre. It was preceded only by a few short-lived realities in the genre; these short-lived predecessors were only loosely related to judicial proceedings, except for one: Parole (1959) took footage from real-life courtrooms holding legal proceedings. Prior to The People's Court, the vast majority of TV courtroom shows used actors, and recreated or fictional cases (as did radio before that). Among examples of these types of court shows include Famous Jury Trials and Your Witness.

The People's Court has had two incarnations. The show's first life was presided over solely by former Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joseph Wapner. His tenure lasted from the show's debut on September 14, 1981, until May 17, 1993, when the show was cancelled due to low ratings. This left the show with a total of 2,484 half-hour episodes and 12 seasons. The show was taped in Los Angeles during its first life. After being cancelled, reruns aired in syndication until September 9, 1994, and on the USA Network from October 16, 1995, to June 6, 1997.