'Ricki Lake' Transforms Teenagers Into 24/7-Mothers-for-a-Week To Teach Lesson of a Lifetime

Special Episode Continues Series' Ongoing Commitment To Preventing Teen Pregnancy


On a special episode airing Thursday, February 22, "Ricki Lake" pulls out all the stops -- not to mention an "Empathy Belly" and a lifelike infant doll -- to temporarily grant self-proclaimed wannabe teen moms their ultimate wish. The episode, which follows two teens for a week as they learn that motherhood isn't as much idyllic moments as it is aching backs, swollen ankles and sleepless nights, advances the series' ongoing campaign to raise young people's awareness of the responsibilities of parenthood and the importance of preventing teen pregnancy.

According to host Ricki Lake, "We meet so many young girls who think that having a baby will make them feel more wanted and appreciated, or will help keep a boy in their lives. What they don't realize is that while children are the most incredible gift in the world, having them when the time isn't right is a grueling process. By putting our two participants through the virtual rigors of pregnancy, childbirth and parenting, we hope they will rethink their desires and recognize that this is an adult decision with many facets. We want those watching to see the impact of this experience on their peers and think about what it would mean in their own lives."

Added Executive Producer Gail Steinberg, "We've produced shows focusing on teen pregnancy before, but none can compare to the all-encompassing scope of this episode, which carefully plotted the entire process to deliver the most effective experience and positive outcome. The combination of Ricki's strong influence on young women and the first-hand experience we've provided for these young girls, who represent a large percentage of our population, is a strong one-two punch of a lesson that we think they will not soon forget."

"Ricki" delivers motherhood in a big way to participants Ariana, 15 years old, and Quavotta, 14, by placing them in the final stage of pregnancy, courtesy of the "Empathy Belly," a medical device shaped and weighted like a pregnant torso. The girls wear the 35-pound harnesses while "Ricki" cameras document them completing the usual activities of expectant mothers, including grocery shopping and a prenatal doctor's appointment; they also spend time at school, receiving feedback from their peers in the form of stares and disbelief. After several days as expectant mothers, the two teens witness the miracle of birth in its rawest form: from the screams of a woman in labor to the physically-exhausting process of delivery, they get a front-row seat to gain some hard-core perspective on the often-romanticized experience. Then, each teen is handed a "Baby Think It Over" doll, or two, in the case of Ariana, whose goal is to be the single mother of twins. For the rest of their week, Ariana and Quavotta are responsible for these computerized infants that mimic a newborn's behavior and detects neglect and abuse.

Recent episodes of "Ricki" have featured teen pregnancy assistance organizations, including Project Cuddle, the baby rescue program that provides 24-hour-a-day support for women contemplating abandoning their babies. The organization reported 90 new cases, all crediting "Ricki Lake" for supplying the particulars they needed to take the first step in helping themselves and their unborn babies. In addition, the series has profiled The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, and Ricki recently produced and appeared in several public service announcements for the organization.

Currently in its eighth season, "Ricki Lake" 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 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.

SOURCE: Columbia TriStar Television Distribution

Contact: Beth Jaffe of The Ricki Lake Show, 212-352-3322 ext. 232; or
Chris Albert of Columbia TriStar Television Distribution, 310-244-6467