Vicki Lawrence stormed off the set of her Group W Prods.’ talkshow “Vicki!” Monday morning, asserting that “interference” from the syndicator has caused her such duress that she is uncertain if she will ever return.
The disgruntled host, who had briefly threatened to take her gripes against the show public earlier this year with an appearance on the rival Tribune talker “Geraldo” (Daily Variety, Feb. 26, March 1), blames her departure on Group W Prods. prez Derk Zimmerman.
Lawrence also faults exec producer and Group W vet Nancy Alspaugh, who she claims would not stand up for her, but says she has the staff’s total support.
The host says the Group W topper planted a “spy” on the show, identified by Lawrence as Don Fletcher, to be his “ears and eyes” during the program’s last three weeks of production this season.
Zimmerman and Lawrence discussed the acrimonious situation on Monday, with Lawrence demanding an apology. Lawrence says Zimmerman told her she was acting “totally irrational.”
The Group W honcho isn’t discussing many of the specific allegations raised by Lawrence, but notes the syndicator is simply seeking to improve the show — Group W’s only current successful firstrun strip.
“When you get to the end of any production season, you try to figure out how to make it better for next year,” he says. “We just want to build on the success that we already have.”
Lawrence’s role on the show remains up in the air. Before she walked out of a production planning meeting, Lawrence had been scheduled to tape six shows this week–two today, two Wednesday and two Thursday.
The only newcomer to receive a Daytime Emmy nomination this year in the host category, Lawrence has consulted with an attorney and plans to see a doctor this morning before deciding on action.
Zimmerman says the company has “nothing but the best interest of Vicki and the show at heart … We want to do everything we can to support it.”
Lawrence vehemently disagrees with that assessment.