`Ricki,’ `Hatchett’ coming back

Feb 18, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Columbia TriStar’s television division may have undergone structural changes the past few months, but that hasn’t prevented the company from moving forward with two of its daytime staples, “Ricki Lake” and “Judge Hatchett.”
“Ricki” fans likely breathed a collective sigh of relief when news broke that the long-running series would indeed come back for another season. Rumors had surfaced that the show was in jeopardy after seeing ratings declines of more than 30 percent since last year. However, the distributor has now confirmed that the series will be back for its 10th season not only with a new executive producer, but also with format and content changes designed to reflect the new decade of the show.
“In the process, in the next week we’ll take a hiatus to do some continued development and evolution of `Ricki’ in order to parallel the contemporary challenges and crossroads our viewers face today,” said Russ Krasnoff, executive VP of Columbia TriStar Domestic Television. “At the core of the show, it will remain a relationship conflict series. We will not alienate our core viewers. Ricki is very excited about the show growing and reflecting what’s going on in her life now.”
A big part of the show’s evolution will involve Michael Rourke, who will replace longtime “Ricki” co-creator Gail Steinberg as executive producer of the show beginning in the fall. Ms. Steinberg will now concentrate on developing new programming for the distributor. As for Mr. Rourke, who launched and has served as executive producer of the successful CTDT series “Judge Hatchett,” he will spearhead the evolutionary changes, elements of which will be introduced in the coming months and will fully begin in fall 2002. The strip is already renewed in more than 90 percent of the United States for its 10th season.
Mr. Rourke will also continue his role at “Hatchett,” which is now being renewed for its third and fourth seasons.
“From the start, the series’ core strengths have been Ricki’s unique perspective and her solid connection with the daytime viewer,” Mr. Rourke said. “As she and her generation have matured, their world has become bigger and more complex. A decade ago, Gail Steinberg launched `Ricki Lake’ and reinvented daytime talk by speaking to a new kind of viewer. As the second-decade milestone approaches, it’s the perfect time to re-address our viewers’ needs and interests and, in turn, our series.”