Michael Rothman, ABC News
August 10, 2015
After more than 14 years of groundbreaking work with E! News, Giuliana Rancic will host her last show as anchor today, embarking on an even bigger journey in the next stage of her career and life.
Rancic, who is a leader in the entertainment industry and ushered in an innovative, fresh style of reporting during her time with E! News, will continue to co-host “Fashion Police” and conduct her patented interviews on the red carpet, but will live full-time with her family in Chicago, which is something she has wanted to do for years. In recent years, the 40-year-old Italian-American television personality has become much more than an award-winning journalist, authoring books, creating successful clothing lines and working with her husband, Bill Rancic, on a string of hit restaurants and even a wine line.
After eight years of marriage and being impressed and inspired more and more each day, this is Rancic’s letter to Giuliana on a very special and historic day, as told to ABC News.
What a Beginning
E! News was two weeks from being canceled when they brought Giuliana on to anchor the show. In fact, the network head told her, “Just have fun” for those final days. I don’t think he knew how passionate this young journalist was and how she was going to shape pop culture. He’d soon find out.
She went in that Monday, also requested the role of managing editor and changed everything. “We are going to make this show younger and hip. We are going to cover the likes of Paris Hilton and you watch, the ratings are going to soar,” she told them.
She walked out of his office and looked at the network head and said, “The numbers are going to go up, you just watch.”
People don’t give Giuliana enough credit, she’s got a master’s degree in journalism, she’s brilliant and just gets it. The rest is history. From that point on, she took control and turned things around. That’s what the greats do. They don’t hesitate, they just know, it’s incredible. I guess by now you all know, E! News lasted a bit longer than two weeks.
It Was Meant to Be
Giuliana and I met briefly in 2004, just for a minute in passing. She was actually dating someone else at the time and I was with Donald Trump, hosting the “upfronts” [a promotional event that TV networks have each season to showcase new programs.] The guy Giuliana was dating came up and said to me, “I want to introduce you to my girlfriend, but I’m afraid the two of you would run off together.”
He certainly knew what he was talking about.
Years later, we met when I was helping to renovate Boys and Girls Clubs. I was renovating a club in Santa Monica and doing interviews. Trump was getting married, so Giuliana asked, “Are you going to get married anytime soon?” I said, “I’m going to hold out … I’m holding out for you.”
We laughed, but that was it. And I mean it when I say, I never went on another date with another woman after that day.
That may sound crazy, but it’s true. I just saw something so authentic in Giuliana. I think it’s the same thing that millions of viewers have seen and why they love her and respect her like I do. Obviously, I thought she was gorgeous and funny, but coming from the Midwest and having been in the Hollywood life for a few years at that time, it felt like home and it felt like love.
The Real Giuliana
A month after we started dating, I was hooked. I got her to come to Chicago and we took a motorcycle ride, but got caught in the rain 30 miles from my house. We were soaking wet, it was an absolute downpour. We parked in some strip mall and I said, “Let’s go in and let’s buy some towels.” She goes, “No, let’s just borrow them.”
We dried off in the store and put the towels back. I understand I’ll probably be getting a bill from Crate & Barrel after telling that story, but it’ll be worth every penny and more, even with interest. I think anyone reading this who’s in love can relate that it was just a moment that was so romantic, funny, and most of all, real!
I said to myself, “Damn, she’s frugal too, a woman after my own heart!” It’s the kind of story that you only see in movies, but I’m telling you, I thought right then and there, “I’m in love.”
Looking back, it was only a special moment because it was with her. That’s love, the person makes the moment, not the other way around.
Look, I could go on and on about Giuliana. But when people come up to me and say, “Tell your wife, ‘Thank you.’ I went in and got a mammogram because of her.”
That’s her legacy. That’s why I’m the luckiest man in the world. She helped make a difference in people’s lives. Handling breast cancer with such class, such bravery. She turned a negative into a positive and used her microphone wisely.
We also chose to go public with the infertility issue, a time when it wasn’t talked about. People would come up and whisper to us, “I’ve dealt with the same thing.”
Now, years later, people are shouting it. People were suffering in silence, they were embarrassed. Little did they know how common it was.
That’s a wall she helped break down, as well. That was something we did together but I give her the credit, it was something she wanted to do.
To the Love of My Life
You’ve done E! News for 14 years. You’ve won in life. I mean that. You’ve evolved, you’ve matured and you influenced others around you to do the same. You’ve inspired others and it shows. But there’s more adventure to be had. There’s bigger and better things out there. You’ve created your own style, your own luck, your own legacy. You’ve over delivered in so many ways. You’ve over delivered in our marriage, as a mother to Duke and in every adventure we’ve tackled together. That’s beautiful. You are beautiful, inside and out. You are the epitome of true beauty and you’ve done it on your own terms.
The way you are on that red carpet, asking questions that everyone wants to ask. Handling the pressure. People don’t realize how good you are until they watch someone else try and replicate what you’ve done. The talent, the professionalism, and you’re doing it live. I’m biased, but to be honest, there’s nobody better than you.
Even in recent months, through some of the harder times, you showed nothing but grace under pressure. You’ve dealt with worse and you’ve taken the high road, when others wouldn’t have, something you always do. We always say in our family, “The high road gets you to where you want to be.”
It’s something we live by, even though it’s easier to take a short cut, or get in the mud and get gratification by attacking others, you don’t and never will. That’s something that makes me love and respect you even more.
Finally, this isn’t the end, it’s a change and the beginning of something bigger. It’s graduating, something you’ve wanted and planned for in recent years. The truly successful and game-changing people are those who challenge the status quo, even when the status quo is working just fine. You’re ready for more, this is your choice and I’m beaming with pride.
I wouldn’t miss today’s taping for the world. I just hope I don’t embarrass you cause I’m crying tears of joy. As you know, I’m a softy, but you are my Sophia Loren — classy, elegant, strong, living your life the right way. Today is just a celebration, the culmination of so much hard work, and excitement for what’s to come next!
I’ll close by saying my wife is the definition of the American Dream. A dream that’s become even more important in recent years. She came to this country at a young age and could barely speak English. All the kids in her class laughed when she stood up at 8 years old and said she wanted to be an award-winning anchor someday. No one is laughing now. ♦