Sneak Peek

Ricki's Back With A More Positive Vibe

Backed by Twentieth Television, Ricki Lake returns to broadcast syndication next Monday (Sept. 10) with a talk show that is far shorter on conflict and longer of empathy than her original show. TVNewsCheck Correspondent Kevin Downey sat in on one of the early tapings in Los Angeles. Here's his report.
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Even before the show begins, the audience assembled for a taping of Ricki Lake's new talk show from Twentieth Television spontaneously begins to chant, "Go, Ricki! Go, Ricki!”

The chant is an echo of Lake's original conflict show, which ended an 11-year run in 2004. But this time the shouts and foot stomping aren’t about inciting her trash-talking guests — because there aren’t any. This time, they just seem to want Lake to know they’re happy she’s back.

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“We’re excited behind the scenes," said Lisa Kridos, executive producer on Ricki Lake who previously spent 15 years at morning show Good Day L.A. on Fox TV’s KTTV Los Angeles.

"When Ricki puts it out there, it’s back and forth with the audience. It’s easy to create that vibe because it’s genuine.”

On this Wednesday in early August, in the second of two tapings at Culver Studios in Los Angeles, Ricki is exploring non-traditional families by talking to a series of non-traditional family members — the step-mom, the two stay-at-home dads, the two gay dads and the woman who is raising her dead sister's children.

But the large and inquisitive audience is a big part of the show, too. One hundred and twenty five people sit in a big half-circle in front of the stage. They are divided in three sections, divided by two wide aisles that give Lake armed with a large, black wireless mike plenty of room to roam.

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Dressed in black, Lake is fully in charge, gently questioning the guests and inviting audience members to comment.

During some commercial breaks — in between booming music and people dancing in their seats — Lake comes out and encourages the audience to shout out questions as the show is taping. And they do.

“The idea is that this is a 360-degree environment,” Kridos said. “It’s not like, ‘We are here. You are there.’ Ricki is so comfortable with people and in the audience, it would be a mistake for us to ignore that. When she talks to people, she is genuinely interested. It’s part of every show to have her out in the audience.”

The set looks like it could be the sitting room in a modern Malibu home — sleek, but not showy. It was designed by Anton Goss, whose other credits include Warner Bros.’ Ellen.

Guests sit on a beige crescent-shaped couch, which sits on a caramel-colored hard-wood floor. Soft purple light provides the backdrop. Scattered around the set are delicate blue, glass accents.

As Kridos says, the colors "very feminine" and "very homey."

The show, which debuts next Monday (Sept. 10), is cleared in just about every market, including Tribune Broadcasting’ WPIX New York and Fox TV Stations’ KTTV Los Angeles.

Lake tapes two episodes per day a few days a week. In the spring, her schedule will go up to three episodes per day. The schedule sounds grueling. At one point during the taping, Lake storms off stage at a commercial break after a stagehand loudly stomps on set while tape is rolling.

Outside that, though, the atmosphere is light. Lake’s crew and friends sit just off camera, laughing and having a good time.

Producers and distributors of the show are promising a much gentler and more personable Ricki Lake than the one that most TV viewers remember from her first syndication run. And if this taping is typical, she is.

The two gay dads, reality stars Bill Horn and Scout Masterson from Oxygen's Tori & Dean, talk about raising their two-year-old daughter Simone as she wanders about the set.

At one point, Simone walks up to the coffee table and yanks out a dark purple flower from a vase. She hands it to Lake, who looks surprised and visibly moved by the gesture.

“She’s your girlfriend. She’s every woman," Kridos said. "She’s a person who you want to sit down and have a glass of wine with."

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Ratings

Overnights, adults 18-49 for September 29, 2016
  • 1.
    1.6/6
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    1.2/4
  • 3.
    1.2/4
  • 4.
    0.9/3
  • 5.
    0.6/2
  • 6.
    0.3/1
Source: Nielsen

Reviews

  • Rob Owen

    Easily fall’s best broadcast network comedy pilot, NBC’s The Good Place offers a clever high-concept premise that’s complemented with intelligent, sometimes absurdist humor. Created by Michael Schur, co-creator of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, The Good Place is a highly serialized series that’s essentially set in heaven and stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. NBC made five episodes of The Good Place available for review, and the show not only holds up, but also it improves, deepening characters that initially feel one-note and frequently leaving viewers guessing with cliffhanger endings to many of the episodes. The combination of snappy dialogue and winning but flawed characters makes The Good Place a great bet for fans of smart TV comedy.

  • Maureen Ryan

    Pitch has swagger, for good reason. It gets the big things right; the Fox drama about the first female baseball player in the Major Leagues is one of the year’s most assured and exciting debuts. But part of what impresses about the pilot is also the way it confidently strings together so many small but telling details. Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) is the first woman to be called up from the minors to the big leagues, and no show since Friday Night Lights has done a better job of portraying the internal and external pressures that weigh heavily on young athletes asked to do much more than merely succeed on the field. Pitch will likely do a good job of getting viewers to root for it. The hope is that the show won’t be an impressive, short-lived curiosity, but rather a long-term phenomenon.

  • Kevin Fallon

    In a fall TV season that’s already making a splash for championing diverse, distinctive voices in an array of projects that they created, wrote, and starred in, Better Things on FX stands out. The show is created by, written by, and starsPamela Adlon. She plays Sam Fox, the single mother of three daughters modeled after her own reality-show-ready experience raising three girls in Los Angeles following a divorce. Sam is also, like Adlon, a working actress — on shows both raunchy, a la Californication, and animated for children, like her role on Recess. It’s a refreshingly blunt take on single motherhood without sacrificing the warmth of parental love, portraying the dance between selfishness and selflessness that’s at the heart of being a parent — especially one weathering the hormonal fireworks of a household of four women at different ages.

  • David Wiegand

    The fall TV season doesn’t count as much as it used to — we already know that. But no matter how many retreads the broadcast networks throw at viewers in the next few months, this fall will be memorable because of the premiere of Atlanta on Tuesday, Sept. 6, on FX. The half-hour comedy created by and starring Donald Glover (Community), simply and brilliantly recalibrates our expectations of what a TV comedy is and how black lives are portrayed on the medium.

  • Louisa Ada Seltzer

    The second reboot of the 1980s John Candy movie Uncle Buck, bumped by ABC from midseason, has the same tired jokes you'll find on any second-rate sitcom. Too bad, because Mike Epps is appealing and ABC would be wise to keep him around for future shows, but there’s just not enough to this show to suggest it will last past summer. It also airs against NBC’s America’s Got Talent, summer’s No. 1 program on broadcast, which may make it even harder to find an audience.

  • Neil Genzlinger

    Bryan Cranston brings his Tony Award-winning interpretation of President Lyndon B. Johnson to television in an adaptation of the Robert Schenkkan play All the Way, and it’s still quite a sight to behold, just as it was on Broadway in 2014. Nothing beats witnessing this kind of larger-than-life portrayal onstage, of course. But the television version, presented by HBO, offers plenty of rewards, allowing Cranston to work the close-ups and liberating him from the confines of a theater set. Cranston’s performance is a gem — in his hands, this accidental president comes across as an amazing bundle of contradictions, someone who seems at once too vulgar for the job and just right for it.

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