These Guys Made Up a Fake Case to Get On ‘Judge Judy’
Back in 2010, there was an amazing Judge Judy segment that featured four people in a dispute over some smashed TVs and a dead cat. You may have seen a clip of it called "Best Judge Judy ending EVER!!!!!"
The story was completely made up. Invented by four roommates in order to get a free trip to LA and some cash out of the Judge Judy producers.
The story they invented was, basically, that a guy called Jonathan had gotten wasted at the house of a girl named Kate and smashed two TVs that she owned. One of the TVs, she said, landed on her pet cat, Trips, killing it. You can see the full segment here.
I spoke to Jonathan, the defendant in the case, to hear his side off what happened:
VICE: What gave you guys the idea to contact the show?
Jonathan Coward: Well, my friend Kate, who was the plaintiff, had just moved up to New York from Baltimore, and she asked me what a quick way to make money was. I had some friends who went on Judge Joe Brown back in the late 90s. They were on there for some sort of roommate dispute. And they told me that the show pays the settlement.
Was that a genuine case?
Yeah. So I told her we could come up with some story for Judge Judy, and we would probably get the settlement and a free trip to LA, because we knew that’s where they shot. So we tried to think of a story that was absurd, something that would be good television. So I just threw out the idea of the cat thing, just off the top of my head. The whole point was that we need to have a story that’s entertaining, but also involves damaged property. I was aware that the cap for small claims was around four grand. Kate got real excited about it and emailed the show straight away. And they got back to her, and were interested in doing it.
How did they reach out to you?
They just called. I allowed Kate to give them my number. I was really dodgy and cagey about answering the phone, and I would like, talk to them for a second and hang up, and I told them I’d do it if they gave me an appearance fee and flew my friend Brian out for a character witness. I guess I was more concerned about making this more of a party for ourselves than anything else.
How much of the story that you guys told is true?
Absolutely none of it. Once they agreed to put us on the show, we realized that we needed to take roles and not have this be something that was completely see through. There were tensions at our house, so a slight amount of it was real.
This Guy Is Trying to Collect Every Single Copy of the Movie ‘Speed’ on VHS
Ryan Beitz owns over 500 copies of the movie Speed on VHS. He also owns 26 laser discs of the film, but those aren’t part of the collection. He just holds onto them so he can use them as bargaining chips to get more on VHS. His goal is a simple one: To collect every copy of Speed on VHS ever made. His other goal? To trick out his 15-passenger van to look just like the bus in the movie.
In order to see the World Speed Project in action, I decided to visit him at his current residence in Moscow, Idaho, where he has scattered all his copies of Speed throughout the van in anticipation of my arrival, and lined the ceiling with them. As we talk, he drives me and a handful of his friends out through the woods via a restricted-access sheep farm on his college campus. As he drives, copies of Speed periodically fall from the ceiling onto the floor.
VICE: Are we allowed to be back here?
Ryan Beitz: Yeah, whatever. The signs just say “No Public Access.” We got official business. I don’t have car insurance now, but that’s OK because I only drive the van around for show. We’re going like 35, and I feel like we’re being respectful. We’re not trying to scare the sheep or like, steal them. Although we could put a sheep in here.
Why don’t you tell me what got you started collecting the Speeds?
I lived in Seattle and was super broke, and I had to come up with Christmas presents for my family. Usually I would just, like, dumpster-dive books or something and give them to them, but when I was at the pawn shop they had six copies of Speed, and I thought it would be really funny to get everybody in my family the same gift, even me. I wanted to watch them open them one at a time and go, “Oh, Speed. Don’t we already have this?” Somebody else would go, “Oh, Speed. Really funny, Ryan.” Then by the time you went around, everybody would have gotten the same gift from me. Then I could tell them that I love them all equally, you know? Just some bullshit.
Then when I bought all six it was, like, way too good. I realized it was really fascinating to have that many, like, same copies of a thing. What really cemented it was when I went to another pawn shop, and they had, like, 30 copies. I said, “I’ll take them all.” They sold them to me for 11 cents a copy.
How many copies do you have right now?
I don’t know, like 550 or something. I haven’t counted in a while ‘cause who really cares?
And you’re going to collect them all.
Yeah. People always go, “Dude how many of these things are you going to get?” And I’m like, “All of them, duh.”
I Went to a Convention for Old, Washed-Up Celebrities
The Hollywood Show does not, as its name would imply, take place in Hollywood. Nor is it a show in the traditional sense of the word. Rather, it’s a weekend-long expo in a hotel ballroom, a chance to peddle yellowed movie memorabilia and yellowed-er still celebrities from days long past. For a mere $20, nostalgia buffs can meet “the guy”: the guy who wrote the song “Build Me Up Buttercup,” the guy who starred in M.A.S.H. (the movie, not the T.V. show), the guy who spat, “No soup for you!” on the episode of Seinfeld that inspired a million novelty shirts.
A “Celebrity Check-In” table greeted the show’s attendees; behind it, a bored-looking woman silently ate a slice of flavorless-looking pizza. In the corner, a revolving door of middle-aged men, who each had paid $40 for the privilege of getting professional photos taken alongside a rapidly decaying Martin Landau, struck a pose next to the Ed Wood star. “Make sure to mention the Hollywood Show on your Facebook posts!” an employee loudly, cheerfully, reminded them.
Hugh O’Brian, star of 60-year-old show The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, hung signage in the hallway inquiring, “He’s still alive???”; said signage instructed readers to “See for yourself!” Once one took the bait, they bore witness to the sight of an elderly, yet still breathing, O’Brian eating a sandwich next to his parked Rascal Scooter.
Lita Ford, wearing a leather jacket with her own name on it, signed mementos shakily held by a man sporting a vintage Runaways tour shirt. The face of the woman who played Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan contorted into a look of pain and confusion as a large white male (the show’s target demographic) asked her one in a no doubt series of inane questions.
Heaven Is for Real Is Phony
Hollywood never met a true story it couldn’t fuck up. In Braveheart, the Battle of Stirling Bridge is fought without the bridge, a fuckup akin to a D-Day movie without a beach. They can fuck up downward, casting the five-foot-seven Martin Sheen as the famously tall Robert E. Lee in Gettysburg. They can fuck up life and death: In Band of Brothers a show so faithfully detail-oriented that it might well have been called, Honest, We Read a Book: The Miniseries, they killed one character 19 years before reality did.
But those are wars. Big things. You know, 50 million dead, a lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous, the atomic bomb. Getting smaller stories right is easier, or so you’d think. Like Heaven Is for Real, the tale of a four-year-old Nebraska boy—deliciously named Colton Burpo—who went to heaven then came back to tell his pastor father all about it. The bare bones of that story sounds like a Capra script already, but somehow, Hollywood fucked it up. Heaven Is for Real is phony. It isn’t even a fun bad movie.
You’ve probably heard about Heaven Is for Real, which, like everything, was a bookbefore it was a movie. Published in 2010, it sold like only a relentlessly heartstrings-jerking tale of a young boy who saw heaven during emergency surgery could. It was co-written by Colton Burpo’s father Todd and Lynn Vincent, who also co-wrote Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue and Never Surrender, with Lieutenant General William Boykin, who left the US Army after saying that America was at war with Satan and that he didn’t fear a Somali warlord because he was armed with a God, while the Somali had only an “idol,” and who once proudly stated that he wanted to crawl into heaven on all fours covered in blood. Those are the kind of righteously tone-deaf people Lynn Vincent writes books with, people whose level of doubt vacillates between, “Am I right, or am I really right?”
There’s a Bootleg Jurassic Park-Themed Restaurant in Los Angeles
Weirdness is getting harder to find these days.
Between marketers, sitcom characters, and whacky dickheads in shirts that say things about ninjas and bacon, genuinly odd stuff is difficult to come by. So I was extremely excited to hear about Jurassic Restaurant, a (presumably) unofficial Jurassic Park-themed Taiwanese restaurant in Industry, California.
Weird shit used to be everywhere. If Tod Browning’s Freaks is to be believed, it used to be that you could barely open your door without tripping over some undiscovered weirdo.
But then lunacy got gentrified and oddness became mainstream—co-opted by Phoebe from Friends and printed on trucker caps to be sold at Hot Topic (over 600 locations nationwide).
American entertainment became about gawking at weirdos. TV shows about women who eat couches or get plastic surgery to look like celebrities became the norm. The guy with a 300-pound scrotum (RIP) got an agent.
Marketers and advertisers got their claws in, too. Weirdness used to be a pursuit for outsiders, but now it’s thought up by teams of market researchers, to be regurgitated by the Old Spice Guy or the Geico Gecko.
Personally speaking, conscious uncoupling sounds a hell of a lot better than what I’ve managed in my own life. Falling out with the person with whom you created children is a heartbreak that I can’t even describe. You can’t drink it away or find someone else so that it doesn’t matter any more. It will always matter. It’s a feeling you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, although you don’t even have to, because the person you loved has already slipped into that role.
—Stop Laughing at Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin
Last time we went to one of Corey Feldman’s parties he freaked out and called us a pervert and accused us of photoshopping images to make him look bad. He also banned VICE (and cameras) from future parties. So when his Valentine’s Day party came along, we snuck in and brought illustrator Johnny Ryan with us.
Did you hear? We went to another one of Corey Feldman’s parties. Cameras were banned, so this time we brought artist Johnny Ryan with us.
We Went to Another One of Corey Feldman’s Parties
By now, the tale of woe that is Corey’s Angels is the stuff of legend. We went to his birthday party last year, took a bunch of photos he claimed were doctored to make the party look bad, and then our writer was accused of being a pervert. The irony of Corey Feldman accusing someone of sexual deviancy at a party where he charged men $250 to hang around women in lingerie was clearly lost on him.
After a few weeks of Corey furiously tweeting his displeasure over the article, shit died down. Corey went back to retweeting any and all compliments he could find, and all seemed normal… until we saw an ad for a Corey’s Angels Valentine’s Day party. Which was, naturally, scheduled forFebruary 22nd.
It’d be fair to assume we would have learned our lesson and stayed away this time, but like the producers of Lost Boys 2, we went greedily went back for seconds despite having every reason in the world not to. Through cunning, guile, and perseverance (and a $300 entrance fee), we made it back to the Feldmansion.
Obviously, under no circumstances, would Corey allow someone from VICE back to one of his “parties,” so I came up with a pseudonym and invented the backstory that my guest was from out of town and looking to get crazy. The party had a dress code where all men had to wear suits, so I sucked in my gut and squeezed into my Sunday best. Cameras were banned this time around, so I took the illustrator Johnny Ryan with me to draw what happened.
If $300 seems like a lot for two grown men to go to a party, you’ll be horrified to learn that it almost cost more, as Corey’s assistant called me up and tried to claim that the advertised “Early Bird Special” on their website should have been discontinued before we bought our tickets and that we’d need to give Corey an extra $200. We simply refused to pay more and went on our way.
Jerry O’Connell Is Currently Doing Some Kind of Super Artsy Thing in Los Angeles
Shia LeBeouf’s performance art piece in Los Angeles has changed the way our society looks at celebrity. It’s a groundbreaking work, the likes of which have never been seen before. Obviously, copycats were bound to start springing up, eager to siphon off some creative juice from such an original piece of art. Fortunately, the first one out of the gate to get a taste of the action was My Secret Identity star, Jerry O’Connell, who opened a performance art installation right next door to Shia.
A massive crowd formed, eager to get a glimpse at what their hero had in store for them. Literally, the line was almost all the way to the next storefront. I counted at least fifteen people. It hit twenty at its peak. It was overwhelming, much like Jerry O’Connell’s performance in Kangaroo Jack.
The line for Shia LeBeouf obviously took a massive hit because of Jerry’s presence next door. The only remaining visitors to Shia’s installation were nobodies, tourists, normal people, fatties, and Time magazine writer Joel Stein. I couldn’t be bothered.
There was a real excitement in the air. Everyone was getting into the spirit of things. Especially this guy, who thought to do his own art project on the sidewalk. Thanks to his ingenuity and me being complicit with his attention-seeking, he is now famous. What a paradox. Really makes you think, eh?
As I made my way through the door, a palpable sense of dread overtook me. What could be in store? Surely, I would be learning something about myself, and connecting with a human being in a very real way. I’d definitely cry. He’d definitely cry.