2,500 'Maury' Episodes: All-Star Video Congrats, Plus Connie Chung's Cake Jump

Maury 2500th Episode - H 2013
Jon Smith, courtesy of NBC Universal

UPDATED: Former guests return and celebrities -- including Barbara Walters, Donald Trump and Shaquille O’Neal -- send congratulatory messages for the show's milestone.

That’s Connie Chung jumping out of a cake on an episode to air Friday to surprise her husband of nearly 30 years, Maury Povich, as he celebrates the 2,500th episode of his eponymous talk show since it moved under the NBCUniversal umbrella in 1998.

Povich, 74, has lots to celebrate in a business where people come and go quickly. He has had a long career first in news and since the late 1990’s hosting increasingly tabloid talk shows -- some 3,000 in all over 22 years.

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Among those who sent video congratulations to Povich's audience: fellow talk show hosts Barbara Walters, Katie Couric, Steve Harvey, Wendy Williams, Kathy Griffin, Jerry Springer, the ladies of The Talk (including Julie Chen and Sharon Osborne) and his protégé Trisha Goddard, who started her own spin off show last fall.

They will be joined by celebrities like Donald Trump, Shaquille O’Neal (who tells Povich “I watch you every morning”), Joan Rivers, NeNe Leakes, Jack Hanna, Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, quarterback-turned-broadcaster Joe Theismann, Access Hollywood host Billy Bush and even Honey Boo Boo, who reveals “exclusively” to Maury, “You are not the father.”

Those paternity tests - as well as other Maury-fodder like abusive relationships, sex secrets, out-of-control teenagers, transsexuals and on-air polygraph tests -- are key to the tabloid fodder that's kept the show chugging along near the top of talkers for two decades. For the anniversary show Friday, along with Chung’s surprise appearance, a number of those former guests will return to provide updates. Among them: The first on-air paternity test, the first to use a lie detector and the first out-of-control teen, who will share how being on Maury changed their lives.

This season Maury ranks third among the key demographic group of women 25-54 among all syndicated talk shows, behind only Dr. Phil and the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Season to date, Maury has averaged in the demo a 1.6 rating, which is even with his performance last season.

In total households, this season Maury is averaging a 2.3 rating (down 4 percent from last season) which means he attracts an average of 3.1 million viewers a day. That places his show fifth this season among syndicated talkers, behind Dr. Phil, Ellen,  Live With Kelly & Michael and Dr. Oz

Among women 18 to 34, Maury has averaged a 1.4 rating for this season to date, which is down about 18 percent from last year. NBC Universal says Povich has been no. 1 in this demo for 100 consecutive weeks. However, in the most recent national ratings, he was tied with top-rated talker Dr. Phil.

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By all those measures, and for his longevity, Povich’s accomplishments are impressive. To what does he attribute his success?

“The themes of my show represent all of the classic story lines right out of Shakespeare: love, betrayal, conflict, drama and comedy,” Povich told The Hollywood Reporter. “Also, throughout the years, I’ve been very fortunate to make a connection with my guests and our viewers.”

His talk show first aired in 1991 as the Maury Povich Show, distributed by Paramount Domestic Television. In those days it often tackled serous subjects like gang violence. It became Maury in 1995. Maury moved to Studios USA (now NBC Universal distribution) in 1998 and was revamped into its current tabloid form.

Maury’s first 18 seasons were taped in front of an audience in New York City, but since season 19 it has been produced in the Stamford (Connecticut) Media Center, where three other NBCU shows are also shot – Jerry Springer, Steve Wilkos and Trisha.

Maury has already been renewed at least through the 2016-2017 season.