When one the highest-paid stars on television — reportedly banking $47 million a year for “Judge Judy” — vacated the bench/throne she held for 25 seasons to star in a new streaming series, “Judy Justice,” the beloved badass decided to go solo.
Petri Hawkins Byrd — who had served as Sheindlin’s bailiff since “Judge Judy” premiered in 1996 — has revealed that he was “not asked” to be part of the new show, premiering Nov. 1 on the Amazon and IMDB TV streaming platforms.
“My assumption is if you were going on to do something else, that you were at least going to ask me if I wanted to have the opportunity to audition for the role,” Byrd, 63, told EW of allegedly getting “priced out” of his gig.
Sheindlin’s sidekick found out about her new show just like the general public — but at the time he was more focused on caring for his wife, longtime “Judge Judy” producer Makita Bond-Byrd, who is recovering from surgery on a malignant brain tumor.
“I didn’t have time to think about or ask about ‘Judy Justice,’ ” said Byrd, adding that Makita just completed her third round of chemotherapy after doctors successfully removed 95 percent of her tumor. “It wasn’t until July that I called the judge and asked, ‘Hey, should I look for something else or am I included in the ‘Judy Justice’ project?’”
That’s when his longtime colleague informed him he was not invited to her streamer. He didn’t ask why, he told EW, as that was her choice.
“But she did inform me that fundamentally, I was priced out as the new bailiff on her new show,” Byrd told the outlet. “My salary would have been too much. I was curious: How would she know? She didn’t ask me. She didn’t give me an opportunity to have accepted a lower salary.”
Sheindlin’s spokesperson released the following statement on her behalf: “Byrd is terrific and we had a great 25-year run. This is a whole new program with a whole new cast and exciting energy.”
However, Byrd said it’s a bittersweet pill to swallow after more than two decades.
“I’m like if I did something wrong or offended you or brought shame to the show, or if was involved in numerous scandals in the 25 years we were together, I might understand why you didn’t want to bother in the end,” he said. “That’s just the way it went. I just know that God has something else for me.”
Now, Byrd is in the process of moving on professionally. In addition to some voiceover work, he recently did a guest spot on the CBS soap “The Bold and the Beautiful.”
He’s not holding any grudges against his former boss.
“The call with Judy ended pleasantly enough,” he said. “I don’t think she understood how confused and dismayed I was after being there for 25 years, from the beginning of her career, and not being at least given the opportunity to say whether or not I wanted to continue that relationship.”
Meanwhile, Sheindlin, 78, told The Post’s Cindy Adams she’s more than ready for big changes because “25 sounds right. Not right is 17 ¹/₂ years. Right is to say ‘my silver anniversary.’ Time for a change. And I’m not tired. I’ve worked 50ish years and my legs are too short to be a ballet dancer. I wouldn’t know what else to do with myself.”
“My children have no landline. They live with a thing in their palm,” she told her pal, Adams. “In the beginning, that to me was like living without pants. In three to five years all broadcasting will change. Now it’s streaming. I’m excited to be in this new venture. I’ve retired the lace collar. My robe is chicer. A different color.”