August 12, 2011

’90s Talk Show Hosts: Where Are They Now?

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I don’t know what normal kids did on school holidays and snow days, but I plopped my ass in front of the tube and was transported into a world of trannies, pregnant teens, and cheating spouses. Yes, my friends – we’re talking daytime talk shows. From Ricki Lake’s cringe worthy (but adorable!) street sass to Jenny Jones’ implant-obsessed panel of midwestern beauty pageant dropouts, I couldn’t get enough of Talk TV (much to my mother’s chagrin). Of course, the appeal (other than needing to know who the daddy was) can be credited to the colorful hosts. A happenstance retweet the other day brought Ricki Lake back on my radar (hay girl), and I began to wonder what’d happened to the rest of my surrogate parents. So I found out.

Geraldo, 1987–1998

Known for: Shows that featured Nazis and other bastions of White supremacy, anti-racist skinheads, Black Panther spinoffs, and Jewish activists. Mostly violent ones. Also, celebrities who people cared about for the wrong reasons, like Tonya Harding.

Where he is now: Geraldo is chillin’ in New Jersey with his fifth wife. He hosts the newsmagazine-style show Geraldo at Large on the Fox Network and got to break the news that Osama bin Laden had been captured and killed by American special forces on May 1st. He said of the news, “This is the greatest night of my career.” I guess he forgot about that time his nose was broken by Neo-Nazis. In June, he sailed in the Marion-Bermuda race. He did not win.

The Ricki Lake Show/ Ricki Lake, 1993-2004

Known for: Shows like “Blind Date With a Racist,” “Girlfriend, You May Hate This But Today I’m Telling Your Brother I’m in Love With Him,” and “You’re Gay, Stay Out of My Life.”

Where she is now: Once her show was canceled, Ricki revived her acting career (she played Tracy Turnblad in the original Hairspray) by starring in The Business of Being Born, a documentary about her “life changing” homebirth. It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2008. While Ricki’s having babies in bath tubs or whatever, her first love is the beweaved and deranged – and so, she returned to the small screen to act as headmistress of VH1’s Charm School in 2009 (filling the probably quite tiny shoes of Sharon Osbourne). On 4/20/11, a bunch of television executives got extremely stoned and signed Ricki on for a new talk show, which launches in September 2012. Most recently, Ricki’s social media team announced her engagement via Twitter like… three days ago. GO RICKI! GO RICKI! GO-GO-GO RICKI!

The Montel Williams Show/ Montel, 1991–2008

Known for: Episodes revolving around Sylvia Browne, Psychic Esq.; helping people find their lost loves, Multiple Sclerosis, and women who snap.

Where he is now: Montel Williams started the Montel Williams MS Foundation after being diagnosed in 1999, so he’s working on that. He’s also a vocal advocate of legalizing marijuana (which explains why he was so keen on nutty ass Sylvia Browne). In 2009, Montel became a New York Times bestseller with his memoir, Living Well Emotionally (which I should probably read). Most recently, he’s appeared on television once more – in Money Mutual commercials.

The Jenny Jones Show/ Jenny Jones, 1991–2003

Known for: Shows like “You May Shake It for Money, But Leave Those Sexy Clothes at the Club, Honey!” “I Don’t Mean to Be a Pest, But You Need to Cover Up That Chest!” and “You Say You’re a Woman Who Can Mack… Well That’s Just Wack!” Hold on, dying of embarrassment.

Where she is now: In 2005, Jenny Jones started her own foundation for education, communities, women… like, pretty much everything. She maintains a blog with a Lisa Frank-esque aesthetic; complete with a custom mouse cursor that closely resembles Tinkerbelle’s excrement. Posts vary from homemade pickle recipes to misspelled missives from readers who are encouraged to write in for advice from other readers. It would be entertaining if it weren’t so sad.

The Phil Donahue Show/ Donahue, 1967–1996

Known for: Shows like… well, I don’t know if shows had titles back then, but he interviewed pretty much everyone including Marilyn Manson, Ayn Rand, Lucille Ball, Louis Farrakhan, and Boy George.

Where he is now: Phil’s celebrity interviews and hot button topics were no match for Size 500 GZZZZZ4 implants and the plastic surgery cat lady. Who can compete with a woman who looks like a cat? In 2007, Phil, an anti-war champion, directed Body of War, a documentary about an American veteran returning home from Iraq. The National Board of Review named Body of War Best Documentary of 2007. Like most 75-year-old people, Donahue is now retired.

The Sally Jesse Raphael Show/ Sally, 1983–2002

Known for: Shows like, “Gay to Straight?” “You’re the Daddy!” and “Teens Confront Cheating Parents!”

Where she is now: After Sally was canceled, Sally Jesse Raphael went on to host a radio show, which abruptly had its last broadcast on 7/4/2008 when Sally went on an ‘unplanned vacation.’ She was last seen on Oprah alongside Phil Donahue, Geraldo Rivera, Ricki Lake, and Montel Williams. Jenny Jones’ invite must’ve got lost in the mail. SJR is 76 years old.

The Maury Povich Show/ Maury, 1991-forever

Known for: Shows like, “Who’s the Daddy… Me, or My Teen Son?” “Sexy Decoys Bust Cheaters!” and “Help! My 14 Year Old is Trying to Have a Baby!”

Where he is now: Still on TV, servin’ up those paternity tests like hotcakes.

The Oprah Winfrey Show/ Oprah, 1986–2011

Known for: Shows like, “Oprah’s Favorite Things,” “Wildest Dreams,” and anything that might cause viewers to break into crocodile tears.

Where she is now: Ballin’ with her BFF Gayle, bossing out at Harpo, having “the Oprah Effect.”

The Jerry Springer Show/ Jerry Springer, 1991–forever

Known for: Shows like, “A Porn Star and an Angry Mom!” “Back Off My Jailbird Lover!” and “Both Brothers Wanna Marry Me!” Also had some weird subset of episodes that involved a midget with no legs and Spring Break or something.

Where he is now: Jerry Springer continues to film in Stamford, CT; the show enters its 21st season in September. It’s also in syndication. In addition, Jerry currently hosts Baggage, a dating series on GSN. His website says he’s available for speaking engagements, appearances, voiceovers, and commercials so, you know, have at him. TC mark

Stephanie Georgopulos

Steph is a former editor at Thought Catalog and a current writer at Studio@Gawker. Her work has appeared on Glamour, …

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