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In its third week on the air, The Ricki Lake Show has changed executive producers, promoting a longtime friend and colleague of the star to help develop bolder topics that will provide ammunition for stronger promotions.
The new EP is Gail Steinberg, who already was a consultant on the new talk show and co-produced the pilot but, more important, was the co-creator and EP of Ricki Lake, the star’s prior talk show that ran from 1993 through 2004.
“Gail will usher in a fresh perspective bringing in an added relevancy, fun and energy to each episode while showcasing compelling viewpoints to the female-focused topics that remain at the core of the new Ricki Lake Show,” said Steven Brown, executive vp programming and development at 20th Television, which produces and distributes the show.
Steinberg is also EP of Divorce Court, the longest-running court show on TV.
Lisa Kridos, the longtime producer of local show Good Day LA on KTTV Los Angeles, who was the EP of Lake’s talker during its development and first weeks, has left the show and now will serve as programming and development producer at 20th Television.
The new Ricki Lake Show has gotten off to a slow start in the ratings, in part because of a cable dispute that has blacked out her show in as much as 40 percent of the New York market.
However, her ratings also have suffered from the intense competition in the afternoon, where she is up against such entrenched hits as Dr. Phil and Ellen as well as Katie, the new talk show starring Katie Couric.
,Katie has much higher ratings in total households than Ricki even on her worst days but Fox execs point out that their show is holding its own against Couric in the key demographic of women 25 to 54. On Thursday, for instance, Katie had a 0.7 rating in that demo while Ricki had a 0.5. While her overall numbers remain low, Ricki has also seen some growth the demo.
It could be that Lake — whose show is light, fun and about women like her who are parents, wives and pals — doesn’t belong in the highly competitive afternoon. For instance, in Boston, where Ricki gets a double run, the version at 4 p.m. rated only a 0.5, but when it was re-run the next day at 11 a.m. on the same station, it rated a 0.8, even improving on the lead-in from Dr. Oz (a 0.7).
Ricki also has to prove herself more quickly than Katie, who is locked into two-year deals. Ricki has only one-year deals and must be re-upped at the end of this season or before.
The first shows executive produced by Steinberg will begin to air in late October — just in time for the November sweep period, when ad rates are set for the quarter and stations will be keeping a close eye on what is working and what is not.
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