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Ricki Lake grows up

Ricki Lake
will be getting a makeover next season as the host and producers try to extend the appeal of the show from its core demographic of women 18-24 to women 18-34. Changes will include updated graphics, modifications to the set, a shift in topic choices to reflect Ricki Lake's own changing interests, new entertainment and celebrity segments, and a new production team. The show enters its 10th season in September.

Last week, Columbia TriStar Domestic Television, the studio behind Ricki,
named Michelle Mazur co-executive producer for the show, where she will work with executive producer Michael Rourke to implement the changes. Rourke joined the program in February, replacing Gail Steinberg, who had run the show since its inception.

Mazur and Rourke are also co-executive producer and executive producer, respectively, on Judge Hatchett, which enters its third season. Both shows are based in New York.

CTDT also said two former producers of The Rosie O'Donnell Show
have joined the Ricki Lake
production team. Mimi Pizzi was supervising producer on Rosie
and will hold the same title at Ricki.
Liza Persky, a senior producer on Rosie,
has been named entertainment producer on Ricki.

Rourke says Lake has "grown up in the last nine years." Initially, her show was targeted to high school and college kids, he says. Now she wants to explore subjects—including relationships, the changing role of women, parenting issues, even financial topics—that concern somewhat older viewers.

The trick, says Rourke, will be to retain the current audience (or a good part it) while also appealing to women who are a little older. "We want to grow the show organically, and it's a natural evolution because, as Ricki has grown older, her interests have changed. So it makes sense to focus on an audience that's slightly older than our traditional audience."

As entertainment producer, Persky will incorporate celebrities and pop-culture stories into the Ricki
subject mix, says Rourke. Historically, the show has done little along those lines.