Giuliana Rancic interviews and reports on celebrities for a living, which added an ironic twist to the necessity for me to put Giuliana in the hot seat for a Q&A that would focus on some intimate topics for her. I hoped that she would empathize with my job requirements, and, not surprisingly, she answered my questions with a great deal of candor and courage. My line of questioning, as you might suspect, included Giuliana and husband Bill Rancic’s ongoing struggle to conceive. I asked both Giuliana and Bill how this journey has affected their marriage and their interaction with friends, family and even their fans.
After a harrowing round of doctors’ appointments, fertility treatments and emotional conversations during last season’s episodes of Giuliana & Bill, which aired on the Style Network to incredible audience reception, the couple resolved to make this season’s episodes an adventure with more lighthearted fare. Bill Rancic has been describing this season’s Giuliana & Bill (which premiered Monday, July 18, 2011 on the Style Network) as the married couple’s “year of fun,” explaining that they are putting their baby drama on the back burner for now to get back to the basics of being madly in love.
This was my second interview with Giuliana Rancic (the first was in January, 2008), and my first opportunity to speak with Bill Rancic. For two people in the public eye, the Rancics are extremely grounded, well rounded people with a sturdy perspective on the world around them. And much to my surprise, Giuliana is not all about “Hollywood.” Actually, to re-phrase that statement, Giuliana is more focused on other things these days. When I spoke with her a few years back, show business was her mistress, and the city of Chicago was clearly Bill’s. The past couple of years, from what I observed, have brought Giuliana and Bill closer together with a profound bond that comes from surviving life’s ups and downs as a married couple.
PR.com (Allison Kugel): I know that your show, Giuliana & Bill, is doing very well for The Style Network, but why did both of you have the desire to do a reality show in the first place when you both had established careers?
Giuliana Rancic: The Style Network covered our wedding and it was just going to be a one [time thing]. They were calling it a “Fairytale Italian Wedding.” So they did that, and that show was their highest rated special ever. To this day, years later, it still airs around the world. At that point the head of the network came to us and said, “The viewers want to see [your] life after the wedding.” And we said, “But we’re not scandalous.” You know, we don’t curse each other out and we don’t flip tables over. We thought we weren’t interesting enough to have a reality show. But they said, “The Style Network is very ‘aspirational,’ and it’s time to show a couple that people can relate to.”
PR.com: You mean someone who has a healthy relationship, basically (laughs).
Giuliana Rancic: And a couple that people can aspire to be like, and laugh with and not at. They brought up really good points, so we said, “Sure, we’ll try it. We’ll do a season of it.” It did really well and then our story kind of evolved and people were interested in seeing what was happening. And we’re very open people so it just kind of worked.
PR.com: Bill, did you say “sure, we’ll try it” to this show right away? I suspect that wasn’t your first response.
Bill Rancic: No. In fact it’s funny, because I showed up at our wedding in Capri, I was at the church and I saw these elaborate rigs and camera crews and my initial thought was, “what is this costing me?” Then I realized Giuliana had invited the Style Network to film our wedding. That was kind of how it happened, and I was pretty reluctant to do it at first. But we’ve been able to tackle some pretty heavy issues in the last years, and I think one of the best compliments we received is a woman came up to us recently and said, “Thank you for doing this show because it shows a healthy relationship, and it’s a relationship I hope my daughters can be in one day.” A lot of these [reality] shows are showcasing infidelity, drug use, and horrible scenarios. That’s not how most people live their lives.
PR.com: You’ve had some drama on the show but it’s not a sensational brand of drama. So many women in recent decades, more than ever, like you Giuliana, are experiencing infertility. Are both of you at peace with your decision to show so much of that struggle, including emotional doctors’ appointments, last season?
Giuliana Rancic: It was hard at the time and we had a real heart-to-heart about it, but when we signed up for this show we knew it was all or nothing. Either show this real side or don’t show anything. People actually sat me down behind closed doors and said, “I hear that you’re going to show this stuff and reveal that you’re going through IVF. You shouldn’t do this. You can just say that you don’t want to have kids.” But that just never felt right.
PR.com: And that’s a lie. That’s not the truth about how you feel!
Giuliana Rancic: I understand that we’re all entitled to our private lives, but at the same time we really did see the value, early on, in sharing our story. And we realized that all of these women in Hollywood in their thirties and forties are running around with twins and saying, “Oh, twins run in the family.” They’re not revealing the real story and all of these women out there who can’t get pregnant feel like, “what’s wrong with me?” So I thought we had to show this. Let’s share with people that when a couple is having fertility issues, let’s make people feel better about themselves. It’s worked, because not a day goes by where people don’t come up to me and say, “Thank you so much for sharing your story.”
Bill Rancic: People will come up and say their wife has been going through this and she’s been suffering for so long, and now they know that they’re not alone. It’s a very powerful thing that we’re able to do.
PR.com: I was grappling over whether to ask you this, Giuliana, but it has merit so I have to ask. You’re doing the news for E!, night after night, where you’re reporting on celebrity baby bumps, celebrity births, and everything is baby this and baby that. Do you have a hard time reporting on that? What’s going through your mind as you’re reading that news copy on camera?
Giuliana Rancic: You know what’s funny? Sometimes what goes through my mind is that I bet people at home, as I’m reading this, think that this is hard for me to read, but it’s actually not. I feel bad that they think that it’s hard. My sister gets pregnant in this season of the show, with her fourth child, and my niece asked me, “Are you jealous?” I’m really not jealous because I don’t want someone else’s baby. I want our baby. To me it’s two different things. When I walk down the street and I see moms with strollers, I’m not like, “Oh my God, I want that baby!” I want our baby and when it happens it will happen. It’s just not meant to happen yet. I believe that it’s all part of a master plan and that when it’s meant to happen it will happen for us. I find a lot of strength in knowing that, in knowing that it just isn’t our time yet. But it will be, and it’s going to be great.
PR.com: That’s a great attitude to have, in general. When you look at anybody’s life, no one’s life is a complete puzzle. If it’s not one thing, it’s something else. It could be a family issue, relationship issue, financial issue, health issues… but everyone has some cross to bear. No one’s puzzle is without a missing piece. And there may be something that is going extremely well in your life that someone else wishes that they had.
Giuliana Rancic: I totally agree with you. There’s no one I would switch places with in the world. As much as Bill and I have been through a lot of heartache with this issue, there is a ton in our lives to be grateful for. We have a beautiful relationship that a lot of people would kill for. That’s why this season, we wanted to just get back to being who we were as a couple and really re-connect, and to not just sit around feeling sorry for ourselves, and just enjoy each other because we’re very lucky to be together.
PR.com: Let’s talk about the location issue that you guys have had since the beginning of your relationship. Bill, you finally, reluctantly, agreed to live in Los Angeles full time?
Bill Rancic: Yeah, it’s not an easy move for me. I was born and raised in Chicago and my whole family is there, and all my friends. At the end of the day, the love of my life is in LA and that’s where I need to be for now, not forever, and to just lighten the load for her a little bit. We had both been commuting back and forth and I thought this would make her life a little bit easier. Fortunately, I’m able to work from anywhere in the country. It’s funny, because when I decided to make the move I got asked to co-host a show with Leeza Gibbons and it’s going to be on this fall. We’re doing a show called America Now, which is a re-birth of PM Magazine. It’s news you can use, and it’s with iTV and Debmar-Mercury. All the stars were aligned, and as soon as I committed to moving to LA I got the call.
PR.com: What will this season of Giuliana & Bill culminate into? What type of finale will your story lead into this season; as much as you can share…
Bill Rancic: It’s the year of fun. We’re tackling new projects. We’re going to attempt to go into business together and we’re looking at the possibility of opening up a Mama DePandi’s (named for Giuliana’s mother) Italian eatery. Giuliana’s mom is an amazing cook and they have these recipes that have been in their family for a hundred or two hundred years. This is something that we explore the possibility of doing. Although [this season] is not baby-centric, we certainly do look into the options available to us and hopefully we are able to figure out the baby thing (rumor has it that the couple is considering adoption) by the end of the season, but we don’t dwell on it.
PR.com: Giuliana, let’s discuss Fashion Police on the E! Network. Fashion Police was something that Melissa and Joan Rivers had done for a long time with E! I spoke to Melissa about a year ago and she told me that she was actually now behind-the-scenes with E!, producing Fashion Police. How did Melissa Rivers end up back at E! as a producer, and how did Joan Rivers come back into the fold at E!?
Giuliana Rancic: Fashion Police would only air after the awards show specials. Then one day I just hear from E! that Fashion Police is going weekly and that I’m part of it. It just kind of happened. But Melissa is great at what she does! She’s on the floor with us, so she’s a producer, but she is also directing what’s happening on the floor and she does an excellent job. She really keeps the show moving and she keeps us in line. The second there’s a break all of us jump on our cell phones and start texting, but Melissa is like, “Hey, pay attention. Put that phone away!” It’s hilarious.
PR.com: She’s a little drill sergeant. She’s funny.
Giuliana Rancic: She is, and every week I get “teacher’s pet.” I think one week I lost to Kelly [Osbourne]. But normally I get “teacher’s pet” because I’m so scared of Melissa that I listen to everything she says. I’m like, “Yes Melissa. No Melissa.” She asks me if I’m going to look at my phone again and I’m like, “Yes ma’am, no ma’am.” It’s kind of funny, but I like it. In Hollywood everyone always tip toes around everyone. And she’s right. The show must go on and keep moving, and it’s good to keep us in line.
PR.com: Are you still employed by the Trump organization, Bill?
Bill Rancic: I’m not, but fortunately Mr. Trump still has me come back on [The Apprentice] as a judge. I was on, not last season, but the season before. Truly, I’d take a bullet for the guy. Whatever he asks, I would do.
PR.com: Giuliana, I want to get your take on a few recent headlines. I’ll throw them at you and give me your thoughts: Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony getting a divorce.
Giuliana Rancic: It was pretty shocking. They usually say where there’s smoke there’s fire. There was no smoke. It was just fire. It just, boom! They broke up. Normally when a marriage is coming to an end, whether there is couples therapy or fights, the tabloids start catching wind of it, especially if it’s such a high profile. It’s very interesting to me that it abruptly ended which leads me to believe there was some sort of a major, something surfaced in their relationship with one of them, where the other one was like, “I’m done! I’m out!” That’s just my theory.
PR.com: Is the E! Newsroom now scrambling to play catch up and to get the back story of the Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony split?
Giuliana Rancic: We have some great sources and information that we’ve been able to attain, so we’re doing some good interviews. Even the press we’ve been doing today, every newsroom is working on the story because it did come out of nowhere and it’s shocking. Whatever it is, it will come out. I don’t think this was a slow decline in their marriage where they just weren’t getting along. I think something is going to surface.
PR.com: Charlie Sheen getting a new sitcom, Anger Management?
Bill Rancic: Do they have a network for that?
PR.com: I know that Lionsgate Television is producing the show.
Giuliana Rancic: I think people will watch. He’s a character. He didn’t kill anyone.
Bill Rancic: And he’s talented.
Giuliana Rancic: People will give him another shot and they will watch him. It’s not like Casey Anthony…
Bill Rancic: Oh God!
Giuliana Rancic: No one’s every going to give that girl a shot because she doesn’t deserve one.
PR.com: That leads me to my last headline. What’s your take on E! or other networks reporting on people like Casey Anthony and, by default, making her a media star?
Giuliana Rancic: Over my dead body she’ll become a media star. I would never pay a dollar to interview her. If E! came to me and said, “We’re going to pay Casey Anthony,” I could not go along with that, and E! would never do that anyway. Hopefully none of the news outlets will pay her a dime for her story. Because if they all say no, then she will eventually do it for free with someone because she’s going to want to tell her story to somehow persuade people to not scream at her when she walks down the street and yell, “Baby Killer.” The second someone lands an interview with Casey Anthony, the first question is going to be, “Did you pay for the interview?” And they’re going to be under so much scrutiny if they did pay her for the interview. I, certainly, as a reporter would never do that.
PR.com: So guys, tell me about what you’re calling your “year of fun?” What are you tackling from your bucket list?
Bill Rancic: We said that we were going to do everything that we couldn’t do if we had kids. Our lives are truly an adventure. We go to London, we go to Italy on a fact finding mission with the restaurant and to see her relatives and just really tackle anything that life has to offer. We don’t say no to anything. That’s our new motto. Well, within reason. We’re going to try to run a marathon this year, you name it! We’re doing it all.
PR.com: You’re taking advantage of your freedom.
Bill Rancic: Totally. I’m trying to get in good shape. I’m working out with a couple of my buddies who play in the NFL and I start working out with them and their NFL style workouts every day. Just a lot of fun. Giuliana has to help me walk for the next few days because I wasn’t used to that level of a workout. But we’re embracing what life has to offer, getting back to the basics and having fun.
PR.com: What are your boundaries with what you are willing to show on Giuliana & Bill? Have you been approached by your producers to show or do something where you said, “Absolutely not!?”
Bill Rancic: We’ve never used our executive powers for evil. We’ve never said, “Hey, take that out,” or “I don’t like that.” That was the deal we made when we decided to do this. We said we were going to keep the show as authentic as possible and as real as possible, and I think that’s what people like. It’s a real reality show with real issues that most people in America have. Some of these reality shows are not relatable. Most people don’t have private jets or live those lifestyles. We’re regular people. I grew up in Chicago and my parents were school teachers. Giuliana’s family came here from Italy and lived in the basement of her uncle’s house when they first got here. We know where we come from and we’re pretty well grounded in our lives.
“Giuliana & Bill” airs Monday nights on the Style Network at 8/7c PM.
Follow Giuliana Rancic on Twitter @GiulianaRancic & follow Bill Rancic on Twitter @BillRancic.