Talkshow host seeks connection with viewers

Months before Ricki Lake 2.0 premieres in national syndication, the talkshow host and her production team have been all over the social media landscape, holding production meetings on Facebook, offering live one-hour chats on Twitter every Friday and now, launching “meet-up” groups all over the country.

“No matter where you are in the world, you can participate in ‘The Ricki Lake Show,’?” says Lisa Kridos, executive producer of the Twentieth talker.

The new-media push by Lake comes as she returns to the fray in a year glutted with other talkshow hopefuls: Katie Couric, Steve Harvey, Jeff Probst and Trisha Goddard are all throwing their hats into the ring.

Lake, whose eponymous first syndicated talkshow ran for 11 seasons, has been ramping up her social-media efforts since last spring. Her team started holding production meetings on Facebook and UStream, with 17,000 viewers tuning into the last one on June 27. That meeting allowed viewers to pitch their own ideas for the show via online video submissions.

Kridos and Team Ricki decided they wanted to move all that interactivity into the real world, and so the meet-up groups were born.

“People were making all of these friends online, but none of us really knew each other,” says Kridos.”

The show already has 16 such groups in cities from Manhattan Beach, Calif., and San Diego to Tucson, Ariz., and New York City. The groups will get together on their own to discuss everything from parenting to weight loss and fitness, with the show planning to tune in via Skype from time to time to see what folks are saying about a given subject.

Kridos says Lake will drive such interactions, which can be free-wheeling. “Ricki is the host, she says, “(but) it’s a conversation, not a presentation.”

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more