In 1995, an episode of The Jenny Jones Show never aired because its subjects were involved in a murder. Jonathan Schmitz was brought on the show so that his friend Scott Amedure could confess his romantic feelings toward Schmitz. Schmitz later killed Amedure.
The case is one of the subjects featured in Netflix’s new series Trial by Media, which examines “some of the most dramatic and memorable trials in recent history” through the lens of the idea that “courtroom dramas have increasingly been transformed into a form of entertainment.”
Here’s what you need to know about what happened to Jenny Jones after the incidents of “Talk Show Murder” and where she is now.
Jenny Jones Today
Jones has a personal website, which deals a lot with her eponymous foundation and “Jenny’s Heroes,” a program where she gives money to people who want to make a difference in their communities. She most recently gave $60,000 to be divided among 11 volunteer fire departments to purchase safety equipment.
She also has a site called JennyCanCook.com and a YouTube channel where she gives cooking demonstrations, though she hasn’t posted anything on it since July 2018.
There Was Immediate Backlash Against the Show
In addition to Schmitz’s conviction for second-degree murder, which resulted in him going to prison until his release in 2017, the Amedure family sued The Jenny Jones Show for wrongful death over the part it played in Amedure’s death. The jury deliberated for seven hours and returned an 8-1 verdict in favor of the family.
The jury ordered Warner Bros. and Telepictures Productions to pay Amedure’s family $5 million for pain and suffering, $20 million for the loss of Amedure’s companionship to his family and $6,500 for funeral expenses, according to the Washington Post. Host JOnes was not a defendant, but she did testify at the trial, telling the court that her show was “a very lighthearted talk show. . . . I think the audience relates to it. I think most everybody at some point have had crushes in our lives. Some people choose to reveal the crush on TV.”
After the verdict was handed down, Jones called the judgment “outrageous” and said it “shocked and saddened” her. But she did acknowledge that “the only real tragedy here is that Scott Amedure lost his life.”
The defendants appealed the verdict and in 2002, the Michigan Court of Appeals overturned it. They ruled that while the show “may be regarded as the epitome of bad taste and sensationalism,” they said that Amedure’s murder was “completely unforeseeable” and that the show “had no duty to anticipate and prevent the act of murder committed by Schmitz three days after leaving the studio,” according to Variety.
Then in 2003, the Michigan State Supreme Court refused to hear the Amedure family’s appeal on the matter, so Warner Bros. never did have to pay the Amedure family the settlement damages.
The Show Ran for 8 More Years
Despite the Schmitz-Amedure incident, The Jenny Jones Show ran until 2003. In a 1999 interview with Dateline: NBC, Jones talked to Jane Pauley about the lawsuit where she defended herself, saying it wasn’t an ambush of Schmitz.
“The headlines were that they ambushed him. If I heard that word ‘ambushed’ one more time, I wanted to scream because I knew that it wasn’t,” said Jones, adding, “I remember one letter that I got in the mail that said ‘you’ve got blood on your hands.'”
She went on to insist that she knew Schmitz was not humiliated because she “was there” and that “didn’t happen.”
“He could have chosen not to appear. He could have told us at the last minute he didn’t want to do it,” she said, adding that Schmitz suspected it was Amedure who had the crush on him and he decided to do the show anyway.
She also said that after the show wrapped, Amedure, Schmitz, and their friend Donna (who was also on the show), went out drinking together.
When Pauley pointed out that maybe Schmitz shouldn’t have been booked because of his history of mental illness and suicide attempts, Jones said that Schmitz’s friends thought he was well enough to come on the show, so it was fine — though his friends were not mental health professionals.
Jones also said that nothing about the way they made the show changed after Amedure’s death.
“I don’t think anyone on the show did anything wrong … nobody was fired, nobody was demoted because nobody did anything wrong,” said Jones.
Trial By Media is out now on Netflix.