Hollywood news for the week of Feb. 20/27, 1998: 'The Jerry Springer Show,' Todd Bridges, and more

Rite of Springer
Encouraged by the Jerry Springer Show‘s recent ratings coup, several movie producers have approached the host/referee in the past few weeks, hoping to bring him to the big screen in a major way. “He’s looking at a bunch of ideas,” confirms a spokesperson. “Everything’s still on the drawing table.” Springer, 54, who played himself in Meet Wally Sparks, would have plenty of material for a biopic à la Howard Stern’s Private Parts: Springer resigned from Cincinnati’s city council in 1974 after admitting that he’d hired a prostitute, only to be elected mayor three years later. But his rep doubts the project will be purely biographical. “Jerry would be playing Jerry,” she adds. “Is that fiction?” She’s right: Judging by his show, at least, it’s getting hard to tell.

Different Stroke
Although he gained fame as Willis on Diff’rent Strokes and infamy for several run-ins with the law, Todd Bridges is embarking on a new path — as an auteur. The 32-year-old actor is starring in The Cleaner, a homegrown action movie about a secret agent who terminates unrepentant criminals, which he is writing, producing, and directing with his brother J.D. Filming starts in L.A. this month on the $200,000-plus project, which may feature many of their pals, including Strokes costar Gary Coleman and Forrest Gump‘s Mykelti Williamson (currently awaiting trial for allegedly stalking his ex-wife and stabbing her friend). “We’re calling in all our favors,” says J.D., 37. Todd thinks his previous troubles (including drug and weapon charges) may help some viewers take a shine to The Cleaner. “I don’t think I’d be as popular” without the notoriety, he says. “It’s given me street credibility…. But I’ve been clean and sober for five years.” Can people ever forget Mr. Drummond’s adopted sons? “I don’t think Willis will ever die,” says Bridges. “But I think this film will knock Willis outta me — and turn me into a darn good actor.”