Giuliana and Bill Rancic never could have anticipated the path their reality show is taking.
The co-anchor of “E! News” and the first winner of NBC’s “The Apprentice” began Style’s “Giuliana & Bill” by documenting their life as newlyweds, then detailing their efforts to have a child. The latter led to a startling discovery that first made headlines last fall — Giuliana’s breast cancer — and the couple’s initial response to the diagnosis is seen when their series starts its fifth season Tuesday, April 3.
“The show is about our lives, and unfortunately, this is a turn our lives have taken,” Bill tells Zap2it, “but we wanted to show people how we’ve dealt with it. We thought this definitely could be a negative situation turned into a positive, but it’s not a whole season about breast cancer.”
Giuliana adds, “Right from the beginning, Bill and I made a deal with each other that if we did a reality show, we were going to do it as an actual, real show. We signed on to show what we thought would be this long-distance marriage that eventually would come together, with kids and a house, and it would be all fun. Sadly, that’s not how it’s turned out, and that’s really not what life is for most people.
“We’ve gotten such wonderful feedback from people saying how our televising our journey has helped them, whether it’s with in vitro fertilization or just in dealing with each other in their own marriage. Now, with being public about the breast cancer, it’s very rewarding for us to help people in that way.”
Much of the “Giuliana & Bill” staff learned about the cancer at the same time most others did, during an October appearance Giuliana made on NBC’s “Today.” She recalls, “That whole weekend before, I went back and forth on whether or not I was going to reveal it. I didn’t want to call people and tell them, ‘Hey, I’m revealing this on Monday,’ and then not go through with it. I almost backed out that morning.”
Even with the new considerations they have, the Rancics are maintaining their very busy and active lives, if the “Giuliana & Bill” season premiere is any indication. Bill has been helping to get their new Chicago restaurant RPM Italian up and going, while Giuliana has continued her travels to both coasts to work on her weeknight program and cover such events as the Oscars, the Emmys and Fashion Week.
“The frequent-flyer miles are burning up,” muses Bill, who credits the restaurant’s successful February opening — also covered in the series — to “surrounding ourselves with the right partners. I was very careful to make sure we were with someone who knew the business, and who could lead this thing in the direction we wanted it to be led. We’ve created a very good team environment; we may have disagreements along the way, but it leads to a better product in the end.”
Giuliana is getting ever more adjusted to the general public’s awareness of her health. She decided to have a double mastectomy, and she admits discussing it is “still hard. I recently gave a speech to a big group in California, and it was the first time I’d done that since the diagnosis. It was a talk to young women about motivation and reaching your goals, and I’d put it off for quite a while because I knew that in the Q&A, they’d ask you about your life.
“I hadn’t been quite ready to talk to that size of a group about everything I’ve been through lately, but I did it,” notes Giuliana, who also is the subject of a new “E! True Hollywood Story” Sunday (April 1). “It’s hard to be in an environment like that, where hundreds of people you don’t know are looking at you. As I was talking about my diagnosis, it got emotional. I thought I was ready, but I don’t know when the right time is. I’m just trying to get through this, like anyone else would.”
Part of that was orienting the first new “Giuliana & Bill” episode toward the couple’s cancer concerns. “We told the producers and the network, ‘Let’s address this right off the bat and move on,'” Giuliana explains. “That’s who we are. Of course, it was tough when we found out and it’s been quite a journey, but we addressed it head-on. And we’re finding the humor in things and the joy in life, and we’re not letting it tie us down.”