Millions of viewers gravitate to daytime TV talk shows. People flock to watch them because they can be humorous, controversial, shocking, and enlightening. Former hosts like Jerry Springer, Sally Jessy Raphael, and Phil Donohue seemed almost like our personal friends because they came into our living rooms and lives every weekday to discuss subjects—including intimate and embarrassing ones—that riveted many of us.
One popular syndicated talk show host from the 1990s, Jenny Jones, seemed to disappear after enjoying popularity throughout most of her show’s run from 1991 to 2003.
Why was her program canceled and what is she doing now? Her fans want to know, so we looked into Jones’ past and current activities. This is what we learned about what this versatile and resilient woman is up to.
Jones’ Show And The Murder Of Scott Amedure
There was an unforeseen incident stemming from an episode of The Jenny Jones Show that was in a category all by itself. It not only rocked the public to its core but proved to have tragically lethal consequences for an unsuspecting guest.
That show also prompted an examination of whether talk programs like Jones’ sometimes go too far for the sake of a hefty ratings boost and sensational, tabloid-style headlines.
On March 6, 1995, Jones taped a show whose theme was secret admirers. The New York Times reported that a guest on the program named Jonathan T. Schmitz believed that his admirer was female because he claimed that’s what producers of the show told him, according to Lieut. Bruce Naile of the Sheriff’s Department in Oakland County, Michigan.
Naile said that Schmitz saw a woman he knew seated in the show’s audience, which seemed to confirm his hunch that his admirer was a lady.
Naile observed that Schmitz “figured she was his secret admirer and walked up and kissed her. But then they told him: ‘Oh, no, she’s not your secret admirer. This is.’ And out walked Scott Amedure. The show was about men who have secret crushes on men.”
Amedure was gay. Schmitz said on the show that he was “definitely heterosexual.”
Naile claimed that Schmitz was “stunned.” Apparently not sure how to behave or react, he played along with the show’s premise. Schmitz looked conspicuously uneasy, especially when Amadure hugged him when he walked onstage.
He and Amedure had allegedly been introduced weeks previously by Donna Riley, who was the person Schmitz recognized in the audience. She was a resident of Schmitz’ apartment complex.
Schmitz allegedly told police that what happened on The Jenny Jones Show with Amedure had “eaten away” at him. Schmitz said he then discovered an anonymous, sexually provocative note left at his residence, presumably by Amedure.
The Times reported that Naile, the police lieutenant, said that Schmitz purchased a gun and bullets, then traveled to Amedure’s mobile home three days after the show (which was not broadcast at the time due to its aftermath) was taped and “shot [Amedure] twice in the chest,” killing him.
In 1999, Schmitz was convicted of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to prison for 25 to 50 years. Schmitz had gotten the identical sentence three years earlier, but his conviction was subsequently overturned on appeal, The Times reported. Schmitz was paroled in 2017, according to Oxygen True Crime.
There was an avalanche of publicity and attention surrounding this crime, including a probing documentary titled Talk Show Murder on Netflix in their Trial By Media: The Truth Behind the Crimes (2020) series.
Amedure’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the show, according to Variety. They claimed that Amedure was “ambushed” into being a guest on The Jenny Jones Show and was not aware that the topic was going to be same-sex crushes.
There was a $29 million verdict against the show that was overturned by the Michigan Court of Appeals in 2002. In its ruling, the appeals court said that the show could not possibly have known that Schmitz would later use deadly force toward Amedure.
The ‘Jenny Jones Show’ Was Canceled In 2003
The show’s ratings reportedly slid considerably during its last two seasons. During its final season, The Jenny Jones Show had the unfortunate distinction of being “the lowest rated daytime talk show.” It was canceled in 2003.
That was not the end of Jones’ professional career, however. On her YouTube channel called Jenny Jones Can Cook!, she demonstrated how to prepare flavorful, healthy dishes ranging from meatloaf to cabbage rolls. Jones’ gusto and enthusiasm clearly bubble to the fore as she stands in what could be her own homey-looking kitchen.
With over a million subscribers, it certainly seemed to be a big hit with viewers. Jones also maintains a website by the same name. A quote from her is on the home page: “This is my passion … cooking, baking, but keeping it simple. No ads. No paid endorsements. It’s just me, sharing my recipes with the world.”
She released her autobiography, Jenny Jones: My Story, in 1997. She also published a cookbook in 2007, Look Good, Feel Great Cookbook : How Eating Superfoods Can Help You Turn Back the Clock with Over 80 Comfort Food Recipes. Judging from the rave reviews it got on Amazon, it was a major smash with readers of all culinary skill levels.
She’s An Active Philanthropist
Jones turned her attention to philanthropy in 2005 when she established the Jenny Jones Foundation to assist those who needed a helping hand in this country and Canada (Jones grew up in London, Ontario, Canada). The foundation concentrates on women’s health and education.
She also founded Jenny’s Heroes U.S.A. and Jenny’s Heroes Canada to award funds to people who used the money to improve their community in some meaningful way.
Jones’ Heroes website depicts dozens of her funding recipients and their projects, such as astronomy teacher Milton Johnson, who bought new telescopes for a high school astronomy club in Phoenix, Arizona, with $10,000 from Jones.
Another passion of Jones’ is the well-being of women. To that end, she has been the honorary chairperson of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation’s Chicago Race for the Cure, which raises money each year to support breast cancer research.
Cook County Hospital in Chicago has also benefited from Jones’ generosity. In 2000, she donated a mobile mammography unit to that facility so underserved women could get mammograms.
Jones has dealt with problems from silicone breast implants, as have countless other women. Knowing first-hand how traumatic and distressing such physical issues can be, Jones launched the Image Foundation in 1992 so women could learn more about this condition. After enduring half a dozen surgeries, Jones finally had her implants removed.
She Has Enjoyed An Active Love Life
Jones has had some serious relationships. She wed musician Al Gambino in 1970. Two years later, they were divorced. In 1973, she walked down the aisle with record marketing executive Buz Wilburn. The couple split in 1980. Jones had another marriage that was annulled. As far as we know, she’s currently the partner of film location manager Denis McCallion.
Jenny Jones has not allowed anything to stop her, including the cancellation of her TV show. Jones reinvented herself and relaunched her brand. She became a successful YouTube home cook, author, and philanthropist. Those are impressive accomplishments from a woman who is truly a survivor.