FRIEND IN DEED Ray Among Rachael Ray's many engaging and/or annoying quirks is her commitment to using "real people" instead of professional experts on her new daytime talk show. She even has a characteristically cutesy name for guests who in many cases are her close, personal friends: "content buddies."
But while the apple-cheeked Martha Stewart manqué may think her pals make for great television, others who work on the show disagree. According to a well-placed source, the show's bookers have been fighting to replace "Rachael's Peeps" (as they're referred to on the show's website) with the standard lineup of PhDs, magazine editors, and other experts. The reason, according to the source, is as much personal as professional: "All of the producers hate her friends," he says. "There's a lot of internal conflict."
There's no question that Ray, whose shtick is more about high-volume enthusiasm than authority, inspires strong reactions, especially from her detractors. A LiveJournal community called Rachael Ray Sucks claims more than 1,000 members, who refer to their bête noir as "Raytard."