LOS ANGELES >> Television’s "Judge Judy" is keeping her hand firmly on the gavel through 2015.
Judy Sheindlin signed a new multiyear deal to stay with the long-running syndicated program that last season ranked No. 1 in daytime, CBS Television Distribution said Monday.
"I am thrilled with the opportunity to continue this exciting second career," Sheindlin, 68, said in a statement.
A former judge in New York, the tart-tongued Sheindlin presides over small-claims cases on her program that’s in its 15th season.
"Judge Judy" had been renewed until 2013 before the new agreement was reached. The deal comes as Oprah Winfrey prepares to wrap up her talk show after 25 years, leaving Sheindlin and other daytime stars to jockey for position. Winfrey’s cable channel, OWN, launched in January.
Sheindlin had publicly toyed with the idea of ending her show in 2013, but "Judge Judy" remains a strong draw. In the 2009-10 season, it ranked No. 1 among daytime series and became the first program in a decade to outdraw "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
Sheindlin is "at the top of her game," said John Nogawski, president of CBS Television Distribution, the show’s syndicator. She’s been the most-watched TV judge since her show’s 1996 debut.
She was hospitalized overnight in Los Angeles in late March for undisclosed reasons but said "all is well" after she was released.
In a 2006 interview, Sheindlin said, "The truth is, you’re really supposed to know when to say goodbye in any job you’re in. I hope that I’ll know."