The latest celebrity-diabetes controversy actually made me smile. Not because of what was said, but because of the childhood memories brought back by who said it.
Actress and former talk show host Ricki Lake is making the talk show rounds, promoting a new weight loss/wellness program for kids. Her first stop, on Good Morning America, was a bit of a misstep. She said juvenile diabetes could be prevented by diet and exercise. Not so.
While the comments on GMA's website show a lot of outrage, I think mistakes like this are great opportunities. ABC, Good Morning America and Ricki Lake can turn this into a win-win. How about another segment on diabetes and the differences between type 1 and type 2? At the very least, you can be sure Lake will never again make the same mistake. That's good news for kids with type 1, like my little guy.
I met Ricki Lake when we were both kids, just a little bit older than my son is now. She would never, ever remember me, but we were both in a Broadway theater workshop called "America's Favorite." I was going to be an actress and my (wonderful, indulgent) parents had agreed to let me go to New York City once a week for lessons, which led me to the workshop's producer, Peter Sklar.
Sklar is a kid-talent coach. I learned a lot and had fun in his classes. He thought I was a sheltered kid from the suburbs (ya think?) and that I needed to learn more about life before I could Act with a Capital A. So he took me to see a NYC homeless shelter. My parents were thrilled.
They did let me stay with it, and I was part of a few dinner theater shows, got a contract with an agent and, at the ripe old age of 13, decided professional acting really wasn't for me. I'm still so happy I tried it, though. It gave me self-confidence, taught me how to use my voice and helped me on my way to becoming a broadcaster (lower-case b!).
Google tells me "America's Favorite" is now "The Kid Who Played the Palace," produced by Peter Sklar and reportedly coming to Broadway this year. Probably about 500 shows are "reportedly" coming to Broadway in any given year, but I would love to see this happen. If it does, I should track down Ricki Lake. We could go together and sing along!
(For more on Ricki Lake and diabetes, check out Leighann at D-Mom Blog. She's got the original clip and Ricki Lake's twitter comments about it. Lake has issued a statement and acknowledged she meant to say type 2.)
update: Lake has since appeared on The Joy Behar show to further clarify and apologize. Thanks, Ricki!