Star Jones Biography

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Birth Name: Star Jones
Born: 03/24/1962
Birth Place: Badin, North Carolina, USA

Starlet Marie Jones was born March 24, 1962 in Badin, NC to her then-single mother, Shirley, who had to drop out of school to support the family. Eventually, Jones' mother moved them to subsidized housing in Trenton, NJ where Shirley reentered school at Rutgers University. From an early age Jones knew she wanted to be an attorney, and inspired by her mother's fortitude, was determined to find a way to accomplish that goal. After graduating from high school at Choate Rosemary Hall, Jones received her BA in undergrad studies at American University before earning her law degree from the University Of Houston Law Center. After being recruited in her third year, and upon passing the New York bar exam, she was hired at the Brooklyn District Attorney's office, where she quickly moved up through an extremely competitive and crowded field to eventually land the prime position of Senior Assistant District Attorney in 1991. With that promotion, Jones had been hand-picked by the district attorney's office to specifically handle high-profile cases involving sensitive issues. A vigorous prosecutor, she was responsible for securing the maximum sentence of a 13-year-old boy, tried and convicted as an adult for the murder of another teenager. Then there was the "Bicycle Rapist" - a predator who lulled victims into helping him by posing as an injured cyclist - who Jones put away for 22 to 66 years. During her time as a trial lawyer at the Brooklyn D.A.'s office, Jones won an impressive 31 out of the 33 cases she took to court. Jones' winning record and her outgoing personality were a potent combination; one that would soon come to the attention of people outside the legal world.

When producers from the nascent cable channel Court TV came looking for talent in 1991, co-workers at the Brooklyn D.A.'s office recommended Jones. She was providing on-air legal commentary for the high-profile William Kennedy Smith rape trial. This led to appearances as a guest analyst on NBC's "The Today Show" (NBC, 1952- ), where Jones impressed execs enough to sign her on as a legal correspondent for both the morning magazine show and NBC's "Nightly News." Jones covered hot-button cases such as the Mike Tyson rape trial, where she landed an exclusive interview with the press-shy boxer, as well as scoring a personal reaction from Rodney King after the acquittal of Los Angeles police officers accused of unlawfully beating him. In 1994, Jones left NBC in order to host her own show, "Jones & Jury" (syndicated, 1994-95) where she served as judge before a studio audience jury. Although the show was short-lived, Jones was quickly named as senior correspondent and chief legal analyst for the long-running tabloid show "Inside Edition" (syndicated, 1988- ) where she scored the only interview with O.J. Simpson during his civil trial following his acquittal in the 1995 criminal murder trial of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ron Goldman. It was during this time that Barbara Walters took notice. The legendary broadcaster was hand-picking the women to co-host her new morning talk show, "The View," and Jones' legal background, eloquence and obvious intelligence fit the bill. In 1997, Jones joined Meredith Vieira, Joy Behar and a rotating roster of youngsters, filled first by Debbie Metanopoulos followed by Lisa Ling and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. The immediate and immense popularity of the Emmy Award-winning show catapulted Jones to a level of fame that her legal endeavors surely never could have.

Her "View" notoriety allowed Jones to examine other mediums and interests. In 1998, her first book You Have to Stand for Something, or You'll Fall for Anything was published, followed in 2006 by Shine: A Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Journey to Finding Love. In 1998, he appeared as herself on the soap opera "All My Children" (ABC, 1969- ) and in an episode of the cult hit "Sports Night" (ABC, 1998-2000), as well as on an episode of ABC's "Spin City" (1996-2002) in 2000. She acted in episodes of Lifetime's "Strong Medicine" (2000-06) in 2001, Showtime's "Soul Food" (2000-04) in 2002, and ABC's "Less Than Perfect"(2002-06) in 2005. Jones also hosted "Live from the Red Carpet: The 2004 Primetime Emmy Awards" on E! Entertainment Television. During her tenure on "The View," Jones became a favorite target of numerous late night comics, with funny men like Conan O'Brien gleefully taking potshots at her on a frequent basis. While most were content to stick with jokes about her weight issues, "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) cast member Tracy Morgan's brutal caricature of her took the growing perception that Jones was a self-obsessed diva and ran with it. Morgan's recurring bit, "Now, I'm a lawyer, see " never failed to score big laughs. This preconceived image, whether right or wrong, was cemented during the months leading up to her marriage to businessman Al Reynolds. Critics and fans alike complained about Jones spending too much air time focusing on her wedding. Gossip columns speculated that vendors and products were being pitched on the show in exchange for free wedding services and merchandise. Their lavish, high-profile ceremony - boasting the likes of Senator Hillary Clinton and director Spike Lee among the 500 guests - drew criticism for its extravagance. Not long after, the WE Network named Jones the top "Bridezilla" of the year for 2004.

As much a topic of conversation (and speculation) as her upcoming wedding was Jones' dramatic change in personal appearance during the period leading up to the event. Despite dropping 150 pounds over a three year span, Jones shied away from discussing exactly how she lost the weight, denying persistent rumors that it was due to gastric bypass surgery. At the time the only medical procedure Jones admitted to was a breast augmentation surgery that went dangerously awry in early 2006. The situation was coming to a head and soon Jones' future status on The View came into question after news of Rosie O'Donnell possibly replacing Meredith Vieira hit the media outlets. Comics predicted a talk show smackdown, as O'Donnell had made several critical statements about Jones in the past, and Jones was reportedly opposed to "non-traditional" lifestyles that the gay O'Donnell promoted and defended vehemently. However, the clash of the talk show titans would not come to pass. In 2006, Jones made the surprise on-air announcement that her contract - set to expire that year - would not be renewed. Walters was reportedly furious, as no one had been told she would make this announcement, effectively blindsiding the live panel. ABC cited viewers' growing displeasure with Jones' excessive focus on her wedding as the justification for the decision. Her departure from the popular daytime talk show was acrimonious, to say the least, with Jones describing her former co-hosts as "hateful." Immediately following her exit from "The View," Jones kept busy with appearances on various talk shows, as well as guest-hosting for a week on "House Hunters" (HGTV, 1999- ), and even turning in a dramatic performance in an episode of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ), in which she portrayed a New York district attorney named Star.

The summer of 2007 saw the launch of "Star Jones" (truTV, 2007-08), a talk show hosted by its namesake, focusing on pop-culture, politics and general news. It survived barely six months before the network - moving away from the legal-centric programming it had been previously known for - decided to pull the plug. It was also around this time when a 2007 Glamour magazine article outed Jones as having had a gastric bypass operation performed years earlier. Things were not improving much by 2008, when Jones filed for divorce from her husband of three years, Al Reynolds. Jones went on to host the documentary special "Heart of the City: Dying to Eat in Jackson" (BET, 2009), examining the obesity epidemic among African-American children in Jackson, MS. In the fall of 2010, it was announced that Jones would be one of the contestants on Donald Trump's "The Celebrity Apprentice" (NBC, 2003- ). In 2011, Jones would reveal her third book, The Lunch Club, a work of closely-veiled fiction about a female talk show host making her comeback after being pushed out of a popular, previous show.