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‘Living It Up!’ a good wakeup call

Wentworth and Ford take a crack at Kelly & Regis’ territory
/ Source: The Hollywood Reporter

A new morning venture pairs the rambunctious and comically earthy Ali Wentworth and TV veteran Jack Ford in a bright, fast-paced daily talk show that’s strongly reminiscent of the Regis Philbin-Kelly Ripa style.

IN “LIVING IT Up! With Ali & Jack,” however, Wentworth sets a funny, impulsive tone. On the downside, Ford, a mite stiff in this format, trails after his partner, both literally and figuratively, and is overshadowed by her energy. The chemistry between the duo is just OK; he’s a great sport whose role seems to be to keep things on track. But he’s a good guy, and affable enough for a morning show.

Originating from the CBS Broadcast Center in New York, the syndicated show offers an energetic mix of lifestyle topics, celebrity interviews, comic bits, cooking and music in front of a studio audience. The debut featured country singer Patty Loveless, cooking, and a brief visit with Phyllis Diller. Loveless and her band perform live, and then the singer chats for a short while with the hosts. Here’s where Ford shines, as he keeps the interview on track and actually draws out some interesting tidbits from Loveless.

NOT JUST CHIT-CHAT

At the top of the show, the co-hosts talk about their respective families, and Wentworth shares some New York experiences about encountering a snobby retail clerk at Macy’s, being yelled at by a homeless man and having a dead pigeon strike her hair. Not the kind of stuff you’d expect in the morning, but offbeat, slightly dark and often funny. Attempting to draw in the West Coast, the duo presents “Ali and Jack’s Excellent Hollywood Adventure,” a visit via tour bus to celebrity homes in the Beverly Hills area, wherein Wentworth, in manic Lucille Ball fashion, invades stars’ homes and even scales a fence (with Ford) into a back yard purportedly owned by Madonna.

Wentworth, with her gung-ho comic ability, is not afraid to behave in a faux lowbrow style or look less than glamorous, and this is a big plus when she does humorous bits — including pretending to have spent all night in a car rather than spring for a hotel. Funny, funny stuff.

Cramming a whole bunch of features into their first show plus introducing themselves and referring constantly to their family life, we spend too much time making meatballs during the cooking session and not enough time in the interview with Loveless.

Wentworth was a regular on “In Living Color” and is adept at impressions. She starred on the Fox series “Hardball,” did a road trip for “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” and appeared as Jerry Seinfeld’s girlfriend in the “Soup Nazi” episode. Ford is an Emmy Award winner, an anchor and correspondent (and lawyer) who worked for “Good Morning America” and “20/20.” A former athlete, he received the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award and won the National Father of the Year Award.

The show will have its hands full in terms of competing against “Live! With Regis & Kelly” and other morning talkers in the same time slot, though it just may garner enough viewers to enjoy a respectable run.© 2003 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters.