With less than 45 minutes until ABC's"Windy City Live" would go on the air with an episode dedicated to Bill and Giuliana Rancic, one of the show's staff members on the set asked the all-important question: "Where are Bill and Giuliana?"
The couple were scheduled to appear for nearly the entire episode March 1 to promote RPM Italian restaurant in the River North neighborhood. And while RPM's executive chef, Doug Psaltis, was ready in the kitchen preparing a dish for the cooking segment, the Rancics had yet to arrive at "Windy City Live's" State Street studio.
To be fair, the stars of the Style network reality TV show "Giuliana and Bill" had a long day ahead. They were taping "The Rosie Show" in Harpo Studios later that day and hosting a party for Caesars Entertainment Corp. at Union Station afterward.
The Rancics eventually arrived with time to spare. Giuliana — co-host of the Los Angeles-based "E! News" — was told she would be asked about Oscars fashion, Ryan Seacrest's run-in with Sacha Baron Cohen on the Oscars red carpet and their new restaurant venture with siblings R.J. and Jerrod Melman, owners of Paris Club and Hub 51.
"You explain how Greg Olsen introduced us (to the Melmans)," Giuliana instructed Bill, referring to the former Bears tight end.
Giuliana visited RPM Italian (52 W. Illinois St.) the night before with Bill and — just like she did during the grand opening Feb. 18 — briefly served drinks behind the bar. She hasn't been able to stop by as much as she'd like due to her responsibilities in LA during awards season, but Bill, a Chicago native and former "Apprentice" winner, keeps her updated with how business is doing and which dishes are selling the best. At the moment, that honor goes to Mama DePandi's Bucatini Pomodoro.
"I was worried about putting (my mom's) name on a pasta dish because it has to taste like her pasta," Giuliana told me once she was done getting prepped for "Windy City." "A week before we opened, it didn't taste like her pasta. When we finally tasted it the day of (the opening), I was so relieved. (My mom) loved it. … If it wasn't good, she would have told me. She's tough."
Giuliana said she originally hoped to name the posh restaurant "Mama DePandi's," but the Melmans thought "Giuliana" might be a better fit. In the end, they agreed to give it the initials of the Rancics, Melmans and Psaltis.
"Mama DePandi's … felt old-world Italian," Rancic said. "That took me a long time to understand. They kept trying to tell me it's going to be more modern and cooler. I did not want it to be Giuliana. That was almost too much pressure. And it would look weird — (as if) I would want it to be (about) me."
Viewers can expect to see the planning process and grand opening on "Giuliana and Bill," much like they saw the couple debate whether to open the restaurant in LA or Chicago the previous season. (Giuliana said they held a fashion show to determine what the wait staff should wear.)
Bill hasn't ruled out opening a restaurant in LA one day, but he said he pushed for Chicago because he felt it made more sense. The couple splits its time between the two cities and is currently in the market for a Chicago home.
"This is our home," Bill said. "It's where our support group is. It's where we will raise our kids and where we will retire."
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