Kelly Ripa hails Canada's landscape and fans
TORONTO - Kelly Ripa says Canadian fans of her morning talk show are "the most vocal" and full of team spirit, and she and executive producer Michael Gelman "worship them for it."
She's hoping their American viewers will pick up on that vibe and consider travelling north when "Live! with Kelly" broadcasts from Banff, Alta., next week.
"I think our shows in Banff will sort of be a love note to that beautiful country and the pristine mountains and those panoramic vistas and all of the nature that is the unspoiled Canadian wilderness," the bubbly Ripa, 41, said in a recent conference call with reporters.
"That's what I sort of love about Canada, is that it's like this gorgeous, civilized country with so many unspoiled, diverse natural scenes. You have mountains, you have water, you have islands — you have everything to offer.
"And in terms of the viewers, they're just the best. The second I walk into our studio in New York, I can tell if there's a lot of Canadian in the house because it's the energy."
"Live! with Kelly" is travelling to the picturesque resort community for four shows that will air April 2 to April 5 on CTV, at 9 a.m. ET.
The broadcasts will originate from the 959-seat Eric Harvie Theatre at The Banff Centre arts school.
Executive producer Michael Gelman said Banff first showed an interest in having the show travel there after the syndicated program shot in Prince Edward Island in July 2010.
Banff was a great fit because he'd been wanting to do another taping in Canada and he longed for a "winter weather remote."
"So this was the perfect timing, and finally we're going to get to deal with such a beautiful winter wonderland that has more than just kind of the ski aspect," said Gelman, noting they plan to do segments on dog-sledding and snowshoeing, among other outdoor activities.
Ripa even plans to trek the wilds of the Canadian Rockies during their stay.
"When I saw that it was these snow-capped mountains and that gorgeous wilderness, I knew that I had to bring my snowshoes because I want to sink my teeth into the wild and I like to go deep in there," said Ripa.
"So hopefully you've got great rescue workers."
Travel Alberta has revealed it set aside $1.5 million to ensure the show would broadcast four shows from Banff.
Gelman said he'd already travelled to the area to scout shooting locations. Ripa hadn't been there yet but had researched the town online.
"When I saw these pristine, unspoiled, gorgeous — they looked like a drawing from a film, you know, it doesn't seem possible, the mountains. I couldn't believe my eyes," said the actress, who's been on "Live!" since 2001.
"I really had my breath sucked away and I was just really excited."
In the April 2 episode, Ripa will co-host with her soap star husband, Mark Consuelos, and chat with actor Jason Biggs and the latest eliminated "American Idol" contestant.
On April 3, "The Bachelor" host Chris Harrison will join Ripa to interview actress Jayma Mays and Canadian comedian Caroline Rhea. Electro-pop group Far East Movement will perform.
"Twilight" star Peter Facinelli co-hosts with Ripa on April 4, when the pair will sit down with actor Johnny Galecki.
And "eTalk" co-anchor Ben Mulroney will be on the April 5 episode, which will feature Toronto-born actor David James Elliott and Toronto-raised R&B star Melanie Fiona.
"Live!" has also taped twice in Niagara Falls.
Gelman said their P.E.I. shows drew in some of the biggest ratings they've ever had in Canada: "P.E.I. was just incredible in that we just had one of these magical times. Everything came together. The weather, which you know can be quite rainy there, the clouds parted and everything turned out to be really beautiful."
"Every summer we're like, 'We have to get back to P.E.I, we have to get back there," said Ripa.
"I miss the food, I miss the people, I miss running around that reservoir. It leaves you wanting more, and that's a sign of a great place to have a remote."