On the heels of Arsenio Hall’s highly controversial tete-a-tete with Louis Farrakhan, talk-show host Ricki Lake has come under fire for her alleged mishandling of an upcoming episode of the Ricki Lake show.
According to eyewitnesses, an audience attending the March 22 taping of the talk show became increasingly hostile during a discussion entitled ”I’m Angry Because People Think I’m Gay.” After the show, one audience member, who had identified himself as a homosexual during the taping, was attacked while waiting for an elevator. ”It was out of control,” says one of the participants, Cathay Che of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, who believes that the situation could have been avoided had the ratio of gay to straight people on the panel (two of the 13 were gay) been more balanced.
Lake is being criticized for failing to challenge the audience’s inappropriate remarks. ”When I said that I was gay-bashed, the audience cheered,” says Brad Lamm, who was brought on to provide a gay point of view. ”She didn’t respond at all to what was going on.”
But the actress feels she’s being railroaded. ”Lamm has an agenda. He was put off that we didn’t give him more time,” she says. ”I’m more sympathetic than anyone to homosexuality. I grew up hanging out with people like Divine.”
Meanwhile, GLAAD is trying to prevent the episode from airing. Producer Gail Steinberg insists GLAAD has nothing to fear: ”The show that will air (April 6) is different (from the one) the audience saw in the studio,” she says. Still, Michael Boyce, an audience member who witnessed the attack, is concerned about the effect the broadcast could have. ”What happened in front of the elevators (could) happen all across America,” he says. Counters Lake, ”It’s not at all cool that someone got hurt, but it had nothing to do with the issue of the show.”