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“The good thing is I’ve done this before,” says Lake. “This is my comfort zone. Dancing and doing the Viennese waltz in front of 20 million people – not so comfortable. But talking to real women, real people about things that matter to us, that’s what I love.”
Being a single mom of two teenage boys, writing a new book, being hands on in the planning of her new TV show excite her. But the process of planning a big wedding makes her crazy.
“That turned out to be so stressful I couldn’t do it,” says Lake. “I hired a wedding planner. I picked a venue but didn’t secure it thank god. I started to do a save the date guest list. That list was enough to give me heart palpitations. ‘What you’re not going to invite this person? You’ve known them forever. This one. Bring a date?’ I started to have flashes of having to meet strangers at my wedding and make them feel at home. I said, ‘Know what? Forget that. I’m 43. I don’t need to be the princess. I get to be the princess pretty much every day of my career in a lot of ways. It’s all about us. We’re not even having my children at our wedding. It’s going to be very low key.”
Lake paused during an interview to smile at the thought of her fiancé. “This is all very new for him and for us,” she said smiling. “We’ve been together for 16 months. When I did Dancing With The Stars I told him, ‘Honey, it’s going to get really strange. It’s going to get really weird for a little bit and it’s true. He’s gone through it unphased. He’s the real deal. He’s not impressed by any of this. He loves that I work really hard. He texted me. Want to hear how sweet he is? How precious? He texted me (she reads off her phone): “He said ‘I love you baby. You amaze me at who you are and what you do. Let your soul shine today. Kiss kiss.’ It’s that kind of unconditional support and love I need at this time in my life.”
“He’s the real deal,” says Lake, and she hopes to be just as real to the audience that tunes in when she returns to hosting talk show for the first time since 2005, but this time with a very different format and a much more personal involvement in every phase.
She refers to The Ricki Lake Show as her talk show 2.0. She has fond memories of her first show, which ran from 1993 until 2004, but this time there won’t be conflict, irate New Yorkers and battles between baby mamas and their alleged daddy’s.
“We’re doing a show that is elevated content for women 25 to 54,” says Lake. “So basically the things women who grew up with me are now like me going through whether it is divorce, or re-marriage or raising teenagers or dealing with fertility issues, aging, career. I’ve grown up a lot. I have this life experience. I’m not who I was when I was 24 and at NATPE for the first time. I’m 43 and in a lot of ways I think I know who I am in ways I did not before.”
If she can do that, Lake may be the one who finally can fill the void left for many women when Oprah scampered off to her own cable network, leaving the afternoon filled with doctors, shrinks, lifestyle gurus and newsmen doing personality pieces.
“For me as a viewer I miss the old Oprah show,” says Lake. “That is what we are trying to do, before the book club. Before she became sort of untouchable. I’ve always loved her. She’s the show I miss watching every day, the way she was when she would go out in the audience. If you think of her 10 years ago she had her arm around that audience members and you felt like she was going through it with us.”
So does Lake think she can fill that void?
“No one can replace Oprah,” she responds. “I’m not going to lie. No one is going to replace anyone. These shows are personality driven.”
So what will it be. That is still coming together. She says she will announce her new executive producer in about a week, a woman she calls “a get” who has done this before. What she can say is that she will put herself out there again.
“There’s going to be a lot of the excitement and energy just as my old show had,” says Lake. “But at 43, the show I want to watch is very different from the show when I was 22. It’s going to be everything we women are trying to figure out.”
To figure out what they are trying to figure out, Lake has already begun using social media and the Internet to reach out to others who are having similar experiences. She has hired a person who is already working those cyber links. She has reached out, she says to “mom bloggers and women bloggers… not only to support our launch but to give us information, ideas on which ways we should go and use them so that we can all work together to do the show we want to see.”
She says she is tweeting frequently, and will have a group of experts who will contribute to the show and participate on a regular basis. They will also be contributing to the online Ricki Lake magazine which will begin appearing in mid-February. “It’s an ap that will soon be available,” says Lake. “It’s a way to get people psyched for the show and give us ideas of what they want to see.”
She won’t be talking politics, have a lot of celebrities pushing their movies and there won’t be a band or sidekick. Lake says it will be her trying to be honest. She says her life is already an open book and she has nothing to hide – so she will share freely.
“John Waters [the film director] gave me my start when I was 18 yrs old and did Hairspray,” says Lake. “He gave me some great advice. Before the movie came out I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what my career would be like. He pulled me aside and he said, ‘Look I want you to remember these three things. Always be humble. Always stay true to yourself. And if you’re going to read and believe the good press about yourself, you’re going to have to read and believe the bad as well.’”
“Those are three things that stayed with me,” adds Lake. “People that know me refer to me as the unfamous famous person. I am definitely someone people know. But I don’t live like people know who I am. I live a very normal, everywoman life. I think that’s refreshing for people who want to tune into a show for an hour in the afternoon, and feel like they’re going to have some take away, feel like they’re with someone they can trust and they like; and who is familiar and who is not going to judge them. I am excited to be that person for them again.”
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