Is she still lightning in a bottle? The Ricki Lake Show, the new syndicated daytime talk program hosted by actress and Dancing With the Stars fave Ricki Lake, will make its debut on September 10. Lake was a mere 24 when she hit the chat scene in 1993 with her first show, Ricki Lake, a youth-appeal hit that ran 11 seasons and became a pop-culture phenomenon. But what does she bring to the party at age 43? Lake gave us an exclusive inside look at her first, emotion-packed day back on the talk circuit. It's all here. The laughs. The nerves. The tears. And, of course, the Spanx.
I wake up and my first thought of the day is: Ricki, your life as you know it is officially over! And I am so excited. I left my first talk show in 2004, but it feels like an eternity because my life has changed gears so many times. My kids were 6 and 2 at the time. Now they're 15 and 11. I moved from New York to L.A. I got divorced. I got married. I've gained and lost a thousand pounds — no exaggeration.
I arrive at Culver Studios to tape the first show. What am I doing here an hour and a half early? Everyone thinks I need run-throughs on the stage, that I have to get out in front of the cameras to get comfortable. What? I don't need this! I want to be as spontaneous and real as possible. Of course, this makes the staff nervous, so I do what I'm told.
I sit down with the producers for a briefing. We're doing two topics today, the first on an amazing organization called Dive Pirates that helps war amputees heal, both emotionally and physically, through scuba diving. The other is about romance in the age of social media. I tried the online dating thing for a few years and behaved badly, dating anyone and everyone in Los Angeles. I have a lot to add to this conversation.
It's hair and makeup time. As I get ready, people keep asking if I'm nervous. The truth? I'm not. I want the show to work. I hate failure. I want people to welcome me back into their living rooms as a host. Being an actress was great, but that's not really me. This is me. It's what I was born to do.
I pop in to meet the guests and the experts. I don't want to discuss too much because I want to save it for the stage. Still, I want them to be relaxed. There's nothing to be worried about. I'm not Oprah Winfrey.
The audience is being loaded in. It's a special invited crowd who showed up from all over the country and Canada — the "Friends of Ricki," an online community we've built over the last 18 months to help support the show. They are unbelievably enthusiastic and their energy is making the studio shake.
It's time for the last-minute prep. I struggle with the Spanx I shoved myself into. My skirt is riding up. Do I have back fat showing? Is my hair OK? I hate this part. But all that's forgotten when I walk out and say hello to the audience. My warm-up guy is Corey Live, a great little spitfire I stole from Dancing With the Stars. He's really smart and clever and the audience just loves him. Things are looking good.
Filming begins. Still no nerves. There's something very liberating about the wildness of a talk show. It is what it is. You can't go back and fix it. Mistakes will be made. You just have to own it.
Show's over and we all get together for a postmortem. Things went really well. Great, actually! The texting segment got very interactive — the audience was really into it. And the segment on the Dive Pirates brought people to tears, in the audience and in the control room. My producers tell me even the Fox executives who came to the taping were all choked up. That's saying something.
To show my appreciation to the staff for all their hard work, I end the day by bringing in a gourmet ice-cream sandwich truck from Coolhaus. They have insane flavors like Fried Chicken and Waffles and Bourbon Bacon. I get this awesome thing called Dirty Mint Chip. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm doing this for totally selfish reasons. I love ice cream! If I could get away with this every day, I would!