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Fall makeover

Ricki Lake may be only 33 years old, but she's about to get a facelift. Her syndicated talk show will have a new look, feel and executive producer when it comes back for its 10th season in the fall.

Columbia TriStar Domestic Television executives have named Michael Rourke executive producer, replacing Lake's longtime producer Gail Steinberg. Steinberg, who has been with the younger-skewing talk show since it debuted in 1993, is going to work with CTDT programmers to develop future cable and syndicated fare. Rourke, who also produces court series Judge Hatchett
for CTDT, will oversee both shows from New York City next season.

"The show has been on for nine years. When we started, the core audience was really 18-24," says Russ Krasnoff, CTDT head of programming. "We've done a phenomenal job of keeping that audience, but the great thing now is that there's an older audience, too. So the question is how do we keep our core audience but also make the show a little more sophisticated ... make it grow with Ricki's sensibilities."

Krasnoff and Melanie Chilek, CTDT senior vice president of development and programming, are also considering changing the set and overall appearance of the show. The timing of the planned changes comes as Ricki Lake's ratings have hit new lows. This season, the show is averaging a 1.8 rating nationally, according to Nielsen Media Research. In its second season, 1994-95, it scored its best-ever full-season ratings, averaging a 5.4 nationally. Since then, the show has seen a slow ratings decline—as have most other syndicated daytime series facing increased competition from cable networks.

Ricki Lake
has been cleared for 2002-03 in more than 90% of the country.