'I Believe in My Heart That They're Not Going to Execute Me': Convicted Murderer Antonio Richardson, Receiving March 7 Execution Date, Featured with Other Young Missouri Death Row Inmates in Special One-On-One 'Ricki Lake,' February 20

First-Person Interviews, Exploring Teen Violence and Its Impact, Marks Talk Show's First-Ever Episode Taped Entirely On-Location in Prison


Expanding its commitment to covering issues of importance to young people, "Ricki Lake" moves outside its studio on Tuesday, February 20, for a special episode featuring one-on-one interviews with youthful death row inmates at Missouri's Potosi State Penitentiary, just outside of St. Louis.

Marking the first time an episode of the top-rated talk show has been taped inside a prison, Ricki conducts one-on-one interviews with two inmates, each of whom committed his crime as a teenager. One of them, Antonio Richardson, received his March 7 execution date after the episode was taped; if it takes place, Richardson will be the youngest juvenile offender to have a death sentence carried out in the state.

In the interview, Richardson notes, "I am still fighting for my life. I believe in my heart that they are not going to execute me." Explaining that he does not blame anyone else for his situation, Richardson concedes that he did take on certain parental responsibilities, in the absence of his father and at times, his mother. "My mother put her men friends in front of me, and my brother, so I took it upon myself to take care of my little brother ... make sure he completed school. I basically raised him, and that's when I got involved in the drug game."

The other inmate profiled is Christopher Simmons, currently on death row for murdering his neighbor in a botched home invasion. The young man has been featured in the recent controversial Benetton clothing ad campaign protesting the death penalty. "Every time a man gets executed (here), you're thinking that could be you and you're praying for that man," Simmons tells Ricki. "You know him personally in here."

The episode includes interviews with relatives of the convicted men, who reveal the effect of the death sentence on their families.

According to Ricki, she confronted a variety of emotions while conducting the interviews. "As a mother, it was difficult to sit across from these young men and talk to them about the lot that life has dealt them," she notes. "As a talk show host, it was important to ask questions that could shed light on the epidemic proportion of teen violence in our country. Realizing the force of our series' impact on the youth population of this country, it was vital for us to present a responsible hour exploring the issues and impact of juvenile offenders and the possibility of the death penalty as the conclusion of their actions."

"The purpose of this show is twofold," explained Executive Producer Gail Steinberg. "Since violence among teens has become rampant in our society, we want to offer our audience a rare look into the minds of two young men who were convicted of brutal crimes. Our other incentive is to examine the hotly debated issue of the death penalty for juveniles. We hope that this thought-provoking hour will generate discussion about teen violence and its often sobering ramifications."

Ricki Lake, currently in its eighth season, has established itself among young adult viewers with a blend of light-hearted and serious subjects, often incorporating unique participatory elements to add fresh insight and a twist to the issue. It is produced by The Garth Ancier Company in association with Columbia TriStar Television Distribution. Gail Steinberg is Executive Producer and co-creator with Garth Ancier, who also serves as Executive Consultant.

Distributed in syndication by Columbia TriStar Television Distribution (cttd.com), the series airs on stations representing more than 93 percent of the U.S. Its national advertising is managed by Columbia TriStar Television Advertiser Sales.

For more information, please contact: media, Beth Jaffe of The Ricki Lake Show, 212-352-3322 x232; or Chris Albert of Columbia TriStar Television Distribution, 310-244-6467.

SOURCE: Columbia TriStar Television Distribution

Contact: media, Beth Jaffe of The Ricki Lake Show, 212-352-3322 x232; or
Chris Albert of Columbia TriStar Television Distribution, 310-244-6467

Website: http://cttd.com/