After 11 years as a talk show host, Ricki Lake took a much-needed break from Hollywood. Now she's back on the small screen as the host of "Gameshow Marathon" on CBS. Lake stopped by The Early Show on Thursday to speak with co-anchor Harry Smith
"It's been so much fun. I can't even tell you. I took a job thinking I wanted to challenge myself in a different way. It was a lot of work, learning seven shows and taping them in two weeks and knowing the rules. It was a pretty tough challenge," she told Smith.
Lake, 37, said the hosting gig is a lot harder than it seems. "Bob Barker — I have a new respect for him," she said. "He knows 70 different games by heart. He's 82 years old and he doesn't work off a script. I really have the utmost respect for him."
"Gameshow Marathon" features celebrity guests such as former Baywatch actress Brandy Roderick, N'Sync's Lance Bass, and actors Tim Meadows and Leslie Neilsen playing classic games before a studio audience.
Lake, who hosted her own talk show from 1993 to 2004, says she took a break from Hollywood to focus on her personal life.
"It was really fun," she said. "It was like coming back. I've taken a leave of absence for a year and a half to get some personal life stuff in order. It was a nice way to come back and be welcomed back. I'm so happy and proud of it."
Lake says she's content with her life at the moment. "I think I'm happy," she said. "I live in California now. But this has been the best week in New York. I've fallen in love with New York again."
Lake doesn't think she'll ever do a talk show again because she's "conquered and mastered" that genre. But the former Broadway actress is considering a return to New York. "I might buy an apartment here or move back and have a second home here," she said. "But I'm really happy. I'm really at peace with where I am in my life."
In recent years, Lake, who has two children, a 9-year-old and 4-year-old, soldiered through a divorce from husband Rob Sussman. For more than two years, she's been spending time with a new beau who is a personal trainer.
"I met him three weeks after I separated from my husband," she said. "It was a quick, new romance. I haven't talked about it until now. He's adorable He's a trainer. (But) he was never my trainer, although people think he got me into great shape. But he's adorable, and he's been a great, great addition to my family."
Lake said she hikes to stay fit these days. "That is the thing I love to do and the thing I love about Los Angeles. I love hiking in the mountains. It's my meditation, my time to myself."
In addition to the new show, Lake has been working on a film project about childbirth for the past two years. "I'm working on this documentary about birth, and that's been so rewarding," Lake said. "I feel like that's my passion project. I made a little movie. I am working, but it's definitely at a slower speed than doing a talk show."
Lake hopes the film will debut at the Sundance Film Festival.
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