WRITTEN BY NEAL ZOREN
21st Century Media Television Columnist
Faith Jenkins finished law school debt-free because of the Miss America Pageant.
Jenkins, a new entry to the spate of daytime courtroom programs with her show, “Judge Faith,” which airs 11:30 a.m. weekdays on Channel 57, competed for Miss America as Miss Louisiana in 2001 and was named first runner-up. She earned more than $55,000 in scholarships that, in addition to other grants, kept her or her family from taking out loans to finance her education.
Jenkins said she enjoyed her time as a pageant contestant and learned valuable lessons that have helped her during her 14-year career as an attorney, but law school was always her goal.
“I was drawn to courtroom dramas as a child,” Jenkins said by telephone from CW Philly studios where she appeared on Channel 3’s “Talk Philly” and taped promotional spots.
“For some reason, I became a fan of Perry Mason. I’d watched the show in reruns every time it was on. I also watched the earlier courtroom series like ‘The People’s Court’ and ‘Judge Judy,’ My goal was to be a trial lawyer, and I reached it.
“The cases on ‘Judge Faith’ are not the criminal felonies I prosecuted while in the D.A.’s department in Manhattan. They are the typical landlord-tenant disputes, dogbites, and fights over $300 debts that are the bread and butter of television court shows. After completing almost an entire seasons of shows, I learned that people from all walks of life have problems that are serious to them and that they want to resolve. The $300 that might seem negligible to one person can mean all the world to another.
“I am lucky that my background in Louisiana, my experience with the Miss America organization, and my years practicing law acquainted me with so many people and so many situations. It makes it easier for me to relate to the litigants who come before me and to the audience of my show.”
Jenkins points out the difference between her program and others is the attention she plays to social media.
“People communicate differently today,” Jenkins said. “They are on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We have access to this material. It often makes the evidence clearer and puts the case in perspective. It is easier to prove that someone is harassing another if the gossip or persecution is recorded on Facebook or pictures appear on Instagram. We can obtain the entire correspondence of an e-mail exchange or of text messages. These are revealed on our show and appeal to younger audiences who regularly use social media as their primary way of keeping in touch with friends. Or even people they don’t know outside of Facebook.
“It amazes me that so many people broadcast their lives in such detail on Facebook and other sites. It amazes me more when they don’t understand others’ reactions or the consequences of what they post. Social media has become a powerful entity that will be used more and more in courtrooms to establish a person’s mindset or serve as evidence.
“I try to keep my posts neutral, but I am embarrassed to admit I am one of those people who take pictures of food and send them to everyone I know on Facebook and Instagram.
“You can tell by the looks you get that people in restaurants know exactly what you’re doing when your aim your cell phone at the dish in front of you.”
Jenkins was tapped for a courtroom show after Hank Cohen of Trifecta Entertainment saw her on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC talking about the George Zimmerman case in Florida.
“He called me and said if I could do well with Al Sharpton and Bill O’Reilly, I would be able to do well on a courtroom show. We did a pilot, it sold, and here I am.”
Cohen accompanying Judge Faith, said he thought Jenkins and the format would draw a younger audience. Both are strong on social media and encourage people to visit their Facebook page, “JudgeFaithTV, or Twitter Jenkins at @judgefaith.
Feldman makes the small screen
Damon Feldman is the ultimate entrepreneur, always coming up with a new project.
For years, he has been producing and promoting boxing matches between celebrities. One of the most famous fights was between former Channel 10 and Channel 29 weather anchor John Bolaris and an WIOQ (102.1 FM) disk jockey, Diego. Feldman was a professional boxer before an injury knocked him to the sidelines and started him promoting.
Feldman is known as “The Promoter,” and that is the name of a new half-hour television talk program he produced from his home in Morton and that appears locally on WATC while the entire set of “Promoter” programs can be seen in series on Film on TV, and new shows can be viewed at 10 p.m. Wednesdays on ifametv.com.
Feldman is the host of the show. His guest this week is Mickey Morandini, a popular Phillies second baseman who played on the National League championship team that went to the World Series vs. the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993.
“The Promoter’ also has three segments, one dealing with lifestyle, one featuring a rising star, and one devoted to sports and entertainment. Each of these segments is presided over by one of Feldman’s co-hosts, Debbie Sarcone doing the lifestyle reports, Eliana Raggio introducing the rising stars, and Angela Cattone talking about sports and entertainment. New shows are recorded at 2 p.m. Thursdays at Chickie and Pete’s at 1526 Packer Avenue, near the stadiums in South Philadelphia. Ann Gutos is the producer. Scott Johnson helps with technical matters.
Channel 3 welcomes new reporters
Justin Finch joins the “Eyewitness News” team from Miami where he was stationed since 2011 as a reporter for WTVJ. The Atlanta native has also worked extensively in New York, mostly covering Brooklyn and the Bronx. He has a degree in English and African studies from Cornell and earned his master’s in journalism from Columbia.
David Spunt moves to Philly from Charlotte, N.C. where he was reporter for WBTV since 2012. Spunt also worked in Baton Rouge where he received an Edward R. Murrow Award for superior work on breaking news story. He started his TV career in Columbus, Ga.
In spite of all the Southern outposts, Spunt hails originally from Boston and grew up in Columbus, Ohio. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political sciences from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.