Without much warning, Steve Harvey just became a celebrity judge on Judge Steve Harvey — but are we really surprised? He has starred in plenty of movies and TV shows, and he's arguably the most memorable Family Feud host ever.
To see him hosting a primetime judge show isn't a huge stretch, but it does make you wonder whether Judge Steve Harvey is real and how legal the whole thing is.
Distractify spoke exclusively with Sham “Lady Sham” Ibrahim, who appeared on the show to testify as a witness in a case involving allegedly stolen dresses between two fellow drag queens, defendant Scot “Pippi Lovestocking” Free and plaintiff Steve “Heklina” Grygelko.
Lady Sham spilled the tea on behind-the-scenes secrets, including whether the show is scripted.
So, is 'Judge Steve Harvey' real?
Despite the title of the show, Steve Harvey is not a real judge. However, you don't have to be a real judge to run a primetime courtroom reality show, and Steve Harvey gets that better than anyone right now. He's in charge of the cases presented on Judge Steve Harvey, and while Steve himself isn't a judge, the cases are legit.
"You never know how the ruling is going to go," Lady Sham told us. "I think [Steve] is fair and unbiased, and from what I saw he genuinely took the time to listen and understand everything about our case as we presented it to him."
As for if the show is scripted, the drag queen revealed that the host is "totally off the cuff." She added, "There is no 'script.' I know for a fact he reached his own verdict in our case because although it was edited out of the episode, prior to coming up with his verdict, he was sort of stuck."
Lady Sham explained that Steve even walked out of the courtroom to "think about" the case before ultimately coming back to the courtroom with his verdict.
Additionally, Lady Sham pulled back the curtain on the show and revealed that the hearings are filmed "with no stopping or pausing" and there are not multiple takes.
'Judge Steve Harvey' participants are paid to be on the show,
Even though the problems on Judge Steve Harvey are real, the people who appear before "Judge" Steve are paid just to be on the show. According to the casting website for Judge Steve Harvey, participants are paid $1,000 for the use of their likeness. And anything else awarded as a result of the case is paid for by production.
Individuals are encouraged to apply to be on the show if they have any disputes they want to settle on-camera with friends, family, co-workers, or anyone else. The website also says "no case is too big or too small" for the show. And according to the fine print, prodducers will pay to fly participants out to film.
Is 'Judge Steve Harvey' legally binding?
If the participants on Judge Steve Harvey sign a contract beforehand about the case they bring to the show, chances are it has something to do with arbitration rather than a real court case you'd see with a standard jury and actual judge. Steve is acting as a mediator of sorts.
That being said, with contracts involved, Judge Steve Harvey is likely legally binding. With other courtroom shows, like Judge Judy for example, participants sign documents agreeing to the arbitration rather than an actual courtroom litigation. So whatever happens is within the parameters of the law.
Watch Judge Steve Harvey on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.