Rachael Ray is getting new weekday competition this fall, but it's sure to be friendly.
Over the course of her syndicated "Rachael Ray," which began in 2006, the Daytime Emmy-winning kitchen expert has seen various rivals come ... and, in some cases, go. Meredith Vieira joins the pack in September, and Ray already is welcoming the veteran of ABC's "The View" and NBC's "Today" back to a regular daytime schedule.
"I love Meredith with all my heart," Ray tells Zap2it while staging her 12th annual cooking show to benefit her alma mater, Lake George (N.Y.) Jr.-Sr. High School. "She is a brilliant, lovely human being who is so diverse and layered. She might not like the comparison, but she's like an onion, with layer after layer after layer.
"She's just funny, accessible and delightful. She has always been gracious and very kind to me, and we have great discussions anytime we share time. And I can't wait to see her."
Ray reasons that even with so many hosts in the daytime-talk race these days, everybody is doing his or her own thing.
"Television now has everyone's voice," she says. "You can use it for education, you can use it for entertainment, you can use it for any vehicle you like. There's so much room for everyone, I don't understand why anyone would be upset about anybody joining the pool."
The pool will include Ray herself for at least two more years, since her program already has gotten that renewal. In such markets as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston, she's also moving to bigger stations.
"We're very, very lucky," Ray reflects. "We've been on for eight years, and this renewal will take us into double digits. In the history of television, that is such an honor. To be asked by the public to come back after that amount of time is a beautiful thing."
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