Ricki Lake Wants to BeYour Girlfriend Again

Talk host returns with new plan to stand out in a big crowd
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After an eight-year hiatus, Ricki Lake is returning to daytime, courtesy of Twentieth Television.

Lake started talking on TV at the surprisingly young age of 24 and basically grew up on television, going through a marriage, the births of two sons and a divorce, all while chatting with viewers five days a week. That earlier Ricki was more willing to do what she was told; the new Ricki has a definitive point of view she wants to bring to audiences.

This Ricki is 43—something she is willing to tell you, which already sets her apart from most women in Hollywood— and she’s about to get married for a second time, to jewelry designer Christian Evans (the wedding will not be televised). She has two children, Milo, 14, and Owen, 10, with former husband Rob Sussman.

The new Ricki Lake will premiere this fall, one of four new talk shows launching into a crowded field. But Lake is keeping the focus on her own program as she preps her premiere. She took some time during a photo shoot to chat with B&C contributing editor Paige Albiniak about what she has planned for fall.

Why do you want to come back to daytime?

I was 23 when I did the pilot for my talk show. I am so proud of it, but I was cast into that show. I was one of 100 women they met with about doing the job. The show I’m working on now was created with me. I’m a full collaborator. And who I am at 43 is very different than who I was at 23.

I am someone who considers myself to be an open book. I’ve always been candid about my hardships. I’m the Everywoman, someone who’s had a lot of experiences and great successes. I’m trying to figure out how to raise my children, deal with my blended family and all of these issues that pertain to everyone. I want to have a relatable conversation every day that’s very inclusive, providing a platform for both experts and regular people.

I want to do a show like the show Oprah did before she became this guru who told everyone what book to read and what to do to improve your life. I did Oprah’s show last year, and the audience was separated from her. She was this billionaire that everyone aspired to be like.

The show that we envision doing is not on now. The way I really see it is the way Oprah used to be 10 years ago, when it felt like she could be your neighbor. This is the new, upgraded, evolved Ricki Lake. I’ll be in the audience, and I’ll be one of the people. I’m a viewer first and foremost.

Will you have celebrities on your show?

When I’m a guest on someone’s show, it always feels very inauthentic. I want to have high-profile people on talking about things they are passionate about. I want it to be more about things that matter to them and less about a PR stop. I love Ellen [DeGeneres], I love that show, but this won’t be Ellen.

The daytime TV environment has changed a lot since you were on every day. Are you worried at all about what you are facing?

I’m really happy with the clearances that we have. We are close to 90% of the country. Doing Dancing With the Stars was a great way for everyone to see me again. And the support I have from [Twentieth Television] has been great. Twentieth went after me hardcore.

Since I left the air in 2004, I’ve always had companies coming up to me and saying, ‘We want you to come back to daytime,’ but it never felt like the right fit, right concept or right time. This seems to be the right time. Twentieth is committing a huge amount of resources and time. They really wanted me and only me, and they understood where I’m at in my life. This is as good a shot as we could possibly have. Hopefully it will work the way I believe it will.

You are returning to daytime at the most competitive time for talk shows that we’ve seen in years. Does that worry you at all?

I’m not going to focus on the competition. I’m going to be myself and do the show that I envision. I believe that the people who grew up with me, the people who are now dealing with whether to stay in their unhappy marriage, whether to take that job or have more kids—all the choices we all have to make—they are all going to feel like they have someone who is going through it all with them.

E-mail comments to palbiniak@gmail.com and follow her on Twitter: @PaigeA

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