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America’s girlfriend is back after eight years and ready to embrace the digital revolution

Ricki Lake

‘America’s girlfriend’ Ricki Lake is back, and this time she’s taking her chat show online as well as on TV. The new show will air from September 10.

The show has alreday been picked up by Tribune stations in New York, Dallas, Denver and Cleveland, while Fox stations have agreed to carry the show in Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston. The show has also been sold to stations owned by Sinclair, Post Newsweek, Granite, Fisher, titan, Sun Broadcasting, Quincy, new Vision, Journal, Citadel and Gray.

The last time we saw Ricki on TV was during Dancing with The Stars, now America’s favourite girl next door looks set to grace monitors everywhere with a new chat show which is using its own social network ‘Friends of Ricki’, to get fans talking and generate material.

Could this mean there are some shiny new jobs in the offing for anyone who might be interested in a position on the new and improved Ricki Lake Show? With over 75,000 ‘likers’ on its Facebook page, it certainly seems like people want to get involved and with numbers like that there’s no wonder syndication has proved so popular, a fact which will undoubtedly be pleasing the production team’s accountants.

The Ricki Lake Show: Before

It’s been eight years since Ricki Lake last appeared on US TV screens in her favourite role as chat show queen. Since then she’s been divorced, married again and is now the mother of two school-age children. As she says herself, she has the life experience, she has the battle scars to prove it and now she’s ready to enter the chat show circuit once again.

The old show ran from 1993 to 2004 and concentrated on topics involving invited guests and questions and input from audience members. Of course these were the days before social media, before Google became the most powerful creation in the known universe and audiences could be created online before a show had even been aired.

The theory behind the network built to support the new show is to keep audiences warm between ‘Ricki fixes’. Stephen Brown, VP for programming and development at LA-based Twentieth television explains.

“It’s incumbent upon us as broadcasters to reach out and try something different and try to engage our audience in a different way,” he said. “If we don’t, we will continue to see a failure and that’s not an option.”

Embracing the digital revolution

As part of the 2012 format, the new Ricki Lake Show launched a monthly online production meeting via Facebook, where any interested party could get involved in the planning stages and suggest ideas or give their thoughts on what’s being discussed. The only fly in the ointment might be that of course, the networks have no control over the show’s social properties.

This is an interesting move and one that is sure to pique the interest of anyone who might want to get a foot in the door for a job in the media. The chat show is now not simply a show, but a multi-media phenomenon. Indeed, Twentieth have engaged the services of small company YouToo, which specialises in developing solutions that can help TV shows interact with their viewers, for example  by allowing them to submit content or get notified should something they send in be selected for the program.

Lake and her production team have also launched ‘Ricki’, a digital magazine filled with parenting, relationship, fitness and fashion advice that can be downloaded via the Amazone.com App Store, iTunes and Google Play.

“One of the things that excites me most about my new show is that it’s truly a social experience,” said Ms. Lake, to Advertising Age. “This is the first time that viewers will be able to interact with a show across all platforms in real-time, by uploading videos, voting, commenting and sharing across their social networks. Never before have audiences been able to participate in a show to this degree from their living rooms.”

Friends of Ricki can be accessed at the following sites:

facebook.com/friendsofricki

twitter.com/FriendsOfRicki

friends-of-ricki.meetup.com

therickilakeshow.com

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