For Giuliana and Bill Rancic, the seventh season of their popular reality show marks what he calls "the fun season, at last." Certainly fans of "Giuliana & Bill" — which is re-premiering on E! April 1 — have seen the mediagenic couple through their travails. They allowed the audience in on their struggles with infertility, their in vitro fertilization efforts and her miscarriage in 2010, and the discovery of Guilana's breast cancer. Her successful battle against the disease, including her decision to have a double mastectomy in 2011, was openly discussed, as was their move to have a child by way of a surrogate. Edward Duke Rancic was born in August of 2012.
Now, with bouncing and smiling Duke in the middle of things, the stage is set for good times. "We definitely do a lot of fun things throughout the season," says Giuliana. "It's definitely a lot lighter than some of the past seasons where we've dealt with very heavy issues. Still, it definitely has its own emotional moments. This season begins and ends in two very different places. It's kind of a roller coaster. The first scene in the first show is us asking our surrogate if she would carry another child for us. She answers that question. The first episode versus the last episode of this season — I think people will be a little surprised."
Both Giuliana and Bill report that little Duke is a natural. "He's a year and a half old now, and thriving. He's the happiest baby," says his dad. He also admits his son is a bit of a ham.
"He really was from the very beginning," Giuliana adds. "It's kind of crazy. We'll be home and we know the cameras are coming at noon and I'll alert them and say, 'I'm warning you, he's really crabby today. He's tired and I don't know if we're going to be able to put him on camera. I may have to put him down for a nap.' And then the cameras turn on and the lights go on and he just comes alive. And the crew is like, 'What are you talking about?'"
Did they have any hesitancy about putting Duke in the public eye so young?
"People have been cheering us on and saying prayers for us all along the way," Bill replies. "It would have felt selfish not to allow them to see him."
Giuliana feels the same way. "So many people have been on this journey with us, through infertility, through breast cancer. It just wouldn't be authentic not to show him — not to show him quite a bit," she adds. "It would be like saying, 'Now that we have a baby, we're shutting you out.' And that's not how we are."
And she finds there's a perk: "We have the greatest home video that is professionally shot and lit, and it's incredible that we'll have this forever."
Bill makes the point that Duke is too young to remember being famous, and that is just fine with him. When his son is older, he expects him to be out of the public eye.
How long, then, can we expect "Giuliana and Bill" to last? Both the Rancics have boatloads of other activities. Hers, of course, include "E! News" and "Fashion Police," her red carpet reporting, and her G by Giuliana HSN clothing line (the shopping network's most successful debut of a line last year). His include the syndicated show "America Now" with Leeza Gibbons, a new Food Network program he has launching April 7 — "Kitchen Casino," which has top chefs competing with a high-stakes gambling twist — his real estate development and his and Giuliana's RPM restaurant in Chicago. Just to name a few things.
No wonder she says she can't imagine keeping up this pace if they have another child.
"I'll tell you," she says, "the reality show is actually the less-pressured job. They just follow us with the cameras. We tell them what we're doing, and they decide whether they want to come along. It's not like the other one," she goes on, referring to E! News. "I have to be in at a certain time, go to the city on certain days. I can see a time where we cut back and have a lighter schedule. I'm not sure when that's going to be but OK, that could happen."
In fact, after a moment's thought, Giuliana says, "I feel like so many people in life, in their careers, never see a finish line. Nothing is ever good enough. One day, you go, 'Gosh I never enjoyed everything I created, everything I accomplished.' I don't want to be one of those people. I want to enjoy it while I'm still young and energetic."
There isn't a week that goes by that the Rancics forget that their show turned into something much bigger than originally planned. Through sharing their personal challenges, they've helped countless everyday folks. Bill talks about being approached by women "literally in tears" as they talk about being inspired by Giuliana's story to get mammograms, and thus were able to catch cancer at an early stage.
There have been a number of such women, she says. They've also been approached by, and received messages from, viewers who found inspiration in their success in having a child via surrogate.
"I never expected to have a job where I'd have this sort of impact on people's lives," she admits. "I loved broadcast journalism and pop culture, and I have fun talking about fashion and celebrities in Hollywood. But then to be able to weave in messages that impact people's lives — it's pretty incredible."