Show about viral video judge gets national syndication deal

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A TV show featuring an 81-year-old municipal court judge in Rhode Island who has made a splash on social media is going national.

The producers of the local show "Caught in Providence" have struck a deal with FOX Television Stations to air the show in major media markets starting next fall, they announced this week.

The show is filmed in the courtroom of Providence Municipal Court Judge Frank Caprio , who presides with a folksy humor and compassion as people dispute their tickets for red-light running and expired parking meters. Clips from the show have had more than 1 billion views on social media.

The judge said Wednesday he's happy people will be able to see his city in a favorable light. He wants his new viewers to see the good government can do, he said.

"I hope that people will take away that the institutions of government can function very well by exercising kindness, fairness and compassion in their deliberations. We live in a very contentious society," he said. "I would hope that people will see that we can dispense justice without being oppressive."

Among his most popular videos have been those where he calls children to the bench to help pass judgment on their parents. One shows him listening sympathetically to a woman whose son was killed then dismisses her tickets and fines of $400.

The judge will not be paid for the deal, he said. His brother, Joseph, runs Citylife Productions, which has produced the show for more than two decades.

Joseph Caprio recently struck a deal with Debmar-Mercury to co-produce the syndicated show. On Wednesday, he was celebrating his rise from decades of public access TV to a nationally syndicated show.

"It's unbelievable. It's a dream," he said.

Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein, co-presidents of the Lionsgate-owned Debmar-Mercury, said in a statement that they love the judge's heartfelt take on justice. They called the show lighthearted and fun, something they said viewers are seeking "in these contentious times."

The only thing they plan to add to the production is an additional camera and sound man, Joseph Caprio said, adding that his brother will not allow lights or anything that damages the integrity of the court proceedings.

Joseph Caprio said the interactions will remain unscripted, as they always have been, adding that it resonates with viewers because it's real and because of the themes it hits.

"Compassion, love of other people, and justice and being fair," he said. "That's what matters."