‘Jerry Springer: The Opera’ Composer Richard Thomas Now Turning His Attention to a Britney Spears Ballet

Richard Thomas Photo: Getty Images

At last night's National Arts Club after-party for the two-night Carnegie Hall concert run of London hit Jerry Springer: The Musical, star Harvey Keitel didn't make an appearance, but the show's "slightly drunk" London creator, Richard Thomas, did. He squirmed a bit when we asked if he thought that Springer — expected to attend tonight's performance — merely held up a mirror to America's debasement or if, by providing a platform, he was complicit in it. "I don't think the guy is evil. He's a very nonjudgmental, avuncular figure. I think there's a weird dignity and compassion" to Springer's guests, he said. We weren't all that surprised when he told us that his next project, workshopping in a few days in London, is a ballet called Meltdown, based partly on — you guessed it — Britney Spears. "My heart bleeds for her," Thomas said. "She played everything perfect, did everything right, and what frightens me is this Schadenfreude-y glee in her demise." America's pop-culture embarrassments, listen up: You've found your hagiographer in Richard Thomas. —Tim Murphy