'DR. PHIL' PRODUCER DROPS DEAD

Published on: February 27, 2003

The tragic heart attack death of a 28-year-old producer for the "Dr. Phil" show has renewed a behind-the-scenes furor on the top-rated program, where staffers claim the tough-talking TV shrink is working his employees to death!

Producer Jeremy Stabile's family insists that Jeremy's shocking death had nothing to do with the show and that he loved his job, despite the long hours and taxing conditions. A spokesman for the Nashua, N.H., based family said Jeremy "thrived" on the work and had recently received a promotion.

But sources close to the show say Jeremy's death should serve as a wake-up call to Dr. Phil to stop running his staff ragged.

"The super-long hours — frequently forcing producers to work so hard that they fall asleep at their desks — and the pressure cooker-like atmosphere have taken a toll on everyone," according to a show insider. "It seemed like only a matter of time before something horrible like this happened."

The ENQUIRER reported January 28 that many of Dr. Phil's producers had to undergo therapy to help them cope with the stress.

"Everyone thought that working for Dr. Phil would be a dream," the show insider said at the time. "Instead, it's been a nightmare."

And insiders say conditions haven't gotten any better since then.

"Now that Dr. Phil has become a top dog of daytime TV, he's put more pressure on his producers to stay No. 1," declared the insider.

"He's constantly badgering show execs to work the staff harder and do better, telling them, 'This is no time for us to become complacent.'"

Insiders say that Dr. Phil's crack-the-whip mentality has forced some staffers to toil so late they actually have slept on the floor at work. It's ironic, they say, that the psychologist who preaches quality of life has so little concern for the quality of life of his employees.

Added the show insider, "Dr. Phil has even said that it's a tough job market out there, so his employees should be grateful to have a job at all."

But even the TV shrink's harshest critics say he seemed deeply moved by the unexpected death of likable Jeremy, who was stricken with a fatal heart attack while being driven home from work on February 13. Sources say he had a preexisting heart condition.

"When he announced (to the staff) what had happened, Dr. Phil looked like he was on the verge of tears," the insider said. "He is even helping coordinate funeral arrangements with the family."

The insider said staffers are hoping the tragedy will prove a turning point and that Dr. Phil will "stop running the show like a sweatshop."