It was a day filled with laughter and tears on the set of Windy City LIVE on Thursday, April 2, when Marlaine Selip, 67, said goodbye after four years as executive producer. She was off to New York to spend more time with her family after 893 shows and a lifetime in the business! The by-invite-only audience was filled with friends and family for a surprise tribute show.
There were a lot of familiar faces at Marlaine's last show including Tim and Mary Astor Smithe, Grant DePorter, Beth Heller, Carol Fox's Nick Harkin and Carly Leviton, WCIU's Rob Morhaim, John Idler, Emily Barr, Maureen Schulman, WCL contributors Roe Conn, Keith Ward, Richard Roeper, Dr. Lauren Streicher (with hubby Jason) and Billy Dec, Laura and Andrea Schwartz, Megan Addington and Mika Stambaugh.
Cindy Patrasso, supervising producer, welcomed the crowd and told us what to expect from this very special segment of Windy City Live. She spoke about how much Marlaine would be missed and had to wipe away a tear before she continued. It was so touching and you could tell this was more than a production team, it was a family.
Marlaine was escorted out by co-host Ryan Chiaverini and, when she turned the corner, we all stood and yelled "surprise'! You could tell this was a true surprise by her reaction which made it so sweet. She waved and pointed to people in the audience before taking her place at the chat desk with co-hosts, Valerie Warner, Ji Suk Yi and Ryan.
Marlaine's only request for her last show was that her nephew's band perform. Walsher Clemons (a 5-man funk group) brought the house down after recently performing to rave reviews at the House of Blues. Joshua's Troop, Marlaine's favorite gospel choir, also performed and had the audience clapping and singing along.
A lot of important people from Marlaine's past surprised her on the show. Her theater teacher was her mentor and he spoke about what a special student she was. Phil Donahue, who she worked with for a number of years, appeared in a video tribute and reminisced about the time they were in Chernobyl together as the first Western reporters.
Marlaine's daughters, Erin and Jamie, flew in to surprise her and wheeled out a massive Eli's Cheesecake. The entire audience was treated to splits of champagne courtesy of Harry Caray's restaurant group for a toast.
Artist Elliott From presented Marlaine with a beautiful portrait of her holding one of the show's many Emmys and Ji hosted a segment that featured all of Marlaine's favorite restaurant dishes. A bartender from the Tortoise Club prepared her special gimlet cocktail.
A sweet segment was included for the late night version of the show that included a mini-roast by WCL contributor/comedian Mark DeCarlo. He said, "We would have to rent out Soldier Field to include all your favorite bartenders!"
As the co-hosts surrounded Marlaine for the last time, Val Warner said, "Marlaine, you are our game changer."
It was an afternoon I'll never forget and I can't wait to see what Marlaine's "next chapter" brings. She said she plans to travel to London and Paris for vacation before moving back to NY where her family live. She also said she may take on freelance assignments. Whatever her plans and wherever she goes, I know she will be a "game changer"! Good luck and have fun Marlaine!
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Tags: Cindy Patrasso, Eli's cheesecake, Elliott From, Emerald-Jane Hunter, Emily Barr, Grant DePorter, Harry Caray's, Ji Suk Yi, John Idler, Joshua's Troop, Mark DeCarlo, Marlaine Selip, Richard Roeper, Roe Conn, Ryan Chiaverini, Val Warner, Walsher Clemons, Windy City Live