Exit Interview: Mike Jerrick

THOUGH MIKE JERRICK IS A WICHITA NATIVE, his run as host of Fox’s Good Day Philadelphia left an indelible mark on our city (and its Pop-Tart supply). Now, on the network’s The Morning Show With Mike and Juliet, Jerrick brings his unique brand of entertainment (think Johnny Carson meets a PG version of Andy Dick) to the national chatfest circuit. If that sounds like a train wreck, consider the New York Times painted him as a leering double-entendre dealer — and also one half of a “marvelous city duo … a nice breakthrough for morning shows.” Jerrick, 52, was typically frank about stalking Regis Philbin, his love of Philly cabbies, and, evidently, his time spent trolling the ’Net for photos of Britney Spears.

Exit Interview: Let’s look back on your three years as host of Good Day Philadelphia, which is known for such hard-hitting journalism as “Mascot Mondays.” Any highlights from your tenure here?
Mike Jerrick: I probably shouldn’t say this, but I love local television. Just playing around with the folks I was working with — Sue Serio, who’s one of my favorite people in life. She is that morning show, as far as I’m concerned. Some people said this is a rough market to be in. Thank goodness I was accepted right away and felt like a member of the community.

EI: Why did you move from Philly to Fox News Channel? Did Rupert Murdoch call and say [bad Brando impression], “Mike, I need to ask you a favor”?
MJ: I wish that would have happened. [laughs] Can we go with that? He begged me and gave me $10 million. … Roger Ailes, the boss up here, called. He really did intimate that there was something bigger than a weekend show down the road for me. I took a chance, because — I hope you believe this — I had a wonderful life in Philadelphia.

EI: What do you miss the most from your old Philly routine?
MJ: I’d hang out at Stephen Starr’s restaurants, but who doesn’t, right? I was a regular in Rittenhouse Square. I sound like a bum or something. I try to make it back for First Fridays. And here’s a weird one — I miss riding in an Old City Taxi with Arnie. He’d pick me up at 15th and Locust every morning.

EI: You had a personal cabbie?
MJ: I did. He’d be at the corner every day. We’ve lost touch in the last year. He lived in South Philly, had a place at the Shore. Arnie was doing fine.

EI: I need to take up cab-driving. So what’s the difference between Fox here and the network, aside from a better budget, programming, talent and catering?
MJ: All of that. We have a lovely catered lunch here. At Fox 29? I’m not kidding you — Pop-Tarts out of a vending machine. [laughs] So many more perks, so much bigger, so many people involved. On this show, we kicked it up a notch. I tell my co-anchor Juliet [Huddy], it’s like driving a Ferrari every day. The talent level is just up, way up.

EI: Do you think the loudmouths on Fox News Channel, where you worked for a spell, distract from any real journalism that may go on there?
If you look at my body of work, I wanted to be fair and just be a journalist. I don’t think anybody knows where I stand on any of the issues.

EI: Can we get you on the record for a few?
I’d rather not.

EI: I don’t mean Iraq. How about Britney Spears — better shaved?
Which area are you talking about?
EI: Hi-oh!
MJ: Hello! I want hair on my Britney.

EI: That is a perfect segue into discussing your show. Let’s start with Virginia Heffernan’s Times review, which mentions the “unholy chemistry” between you and Juliet that “perverts the breakfast hour” — and your “creepy prurience.”
I was a little concerned. [laughs] The opening line was “He’s smarmy. She’s contrived.” By the end, this writer gets it. I was so happy. We’re not trying to do the same thing you see on the air.

EI: So morning perversion is really what you’re going for?
I don’t know about that. “Unholy chemistry” I’ll take. To be fair, if she watches more, I think she’ll get rid of “prurient.”

EI: She also called you “smarmy,” “leering” and “sleazy.”
Y’know, if you want to look at the more positive words, ya rat bastard [laughs] … What was the word I liked so much? Unusual. Unique. [Actually, neither of those made an appearance.]

EI: I was afraid that after you were characterized that way, Bill O’Reilly might call you a sex offender.
Right. I’m not offended by it at all, because I know it’s not true. If you watch enough, you’ll know I’m not always that way.

EI: But I mentioned Britney and you went there.
[laughs] Well, she shaved her head! So, literally, the curtains match the, ahem … [laughs]

EI: I think a feud with Regis and Kelly would boost your ratings. Maybe the two of you just happen to run into them and you give Reege a little chest bump.
[laughs] I’d rather chest-bump with Kelly.

EI: There you go again! Regis might kick your ass.
Kelly would kick my ass! I can’t help myself. I hate to be serious, but I’m going to be in three, two, one … Regis is one of my heroes. I wanted to be somewhere between Johnny Carson and David Hartman, and that’s where I am. Regis is, too, and I think he’s the best at what I’m trying to do.

EI: This is a macabre question, but if, when this interview runs in April, your show is no longer with us, what might you be doing?
It’s hard to answer, because I know that won’t happen. But of course, we’re talking about television. … I might just be full-time stalking Regis. Is this interview going to be up for a cover?

EI: If you don’t mind us splashing the Britney comment across it.
Okay … see you on the back page, then.
Fox PR person who was surreptitiously listening the entire time:
I’ll have to agree with that.