Talk, Talk, Talk: No Shortage of Chat Shows on TV

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Ricki Lake.

Oprah Winfrey, Phil Donahue, Sally Jessy Raphael, Geraldo Rivera, andRickiLakeare among the celebrated trailblazing chat show stars of the past. They have left an indelible imprint for a new crop of pop culture mavens to follow in their footsteps. This season the airwaves are crowded with hosts hoping to become the next big thing on the talk show circuit, including Katie Couric, Jeff Probst, Steve Harvey, British import Trisha Goddard, andRickiLake, again.

Returning for a second go-round at being the audience’s “best friend who is just like them,” Lake’s first foray into the daytime talk world was a tremendous success, with Ricki Lake airing for 11 seasons. Now 43-years-old, she says the new Ricki Lake Show is “a more evolved version of me. I know I’m not perfect, but this is a fantastic time of my life.”

Although Lakesays she’s moving on and doesn’t want to do what she’s done before, she does admit the core of the show remains the same “talking to real people about real issues. It’s about the evolution I’ve had and coming full circle.” The movie Hairspray launched her career, and she went on to do more films and television roles. Last year, she earned third place on the 13th season of Dancing with the Stars, partnered with Derek Hough. On the personal side she’s a wife and mother who “wants to relate to the audience that grew up watching me.”

Katie with Katie Couric also hopes to appeal to the audience who woke up with the Today show host for many years. With her signature perkiness, Couric says, “One of the exciting things for me about doing the show is I’m going to be able to flex all my muscles. I’ve been in television news for 33 years, and I’ve done such a variety of stories. Some lighthearted, some celebrity driven stories. But then I’ve done very serious stories.”

She reminds that she covered national tragedies such as 9/11 and theOklahoma Citybombing, “and I pride myself on being able to use the right tone and the right approach. And to be able to calibrate that approach depending on who I’m interviewing or the topic I’m dealing with on any given day.”

In terms of what the topics will be, Couric says, “We’ll have two or three topics in one show, with things as varied as the impact of technology on our relationships, the best way to care for an aging parent, our children, or it may be dating in your 40s and 50s, something I can relate to.”

The Jeff Probst Show has the likable host who has been the unwavering constant on Survivor, snuffing out the torches for 13 seasons. Probst says he has learned a lot about human nature thanks to hosting Survivor over the years, especially “you can’t change your core.” The show also honed his talent for listening. “That’s the best skill for an interviewer. I really listen. I am absolutely fascinated by people. I don’t care where you come from, or what you are about. I just love knowing your story.”

A couple more talk shows blustering their way through the crowded field in daytime are Trisha Goddard and Steve Harvey. Goddard was a hit with her talk show in England because she has a gentle way of spinning a Jerry Springer moment, but the Brit is unknown to American audiences, except those who enjoyed her appearances on Maury.

Steve Harvey is a funny guy, and a natural to put a comedy spin on the chat shows. Expect him to put a lot of focus on the relationships because he has the greatest insight to the husband-wife dynamic.Harveynotes that when there is a disagreement “men can be right, or they can be happy.” The comic certainly deserves a platform to dispense that much-needed wisdom.

A Worthwhile Cause

Deborah Alessi and Dr. David Alessi are hosting the third annual Face Forward Gala on Sept. 15 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The glamorous Moroccan-themed night will support the very vital mission of offering a second chance at life. Dr. and Mrs. Alessi founded Face Forward (facela.net) to provide facial reconstructive services for women and children who have been victims of violence. Bless them for caring.

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