Rachael Ray is taking her daytime show to war-torn Ukraine.
“The Rachael Ray Show” is planning to decamp to Ukraine in October to tape shows there as the country continues to fight for its survival after being attacked by Russia in late February.
“It makes me cry to think about it,” Ray, 54, told The Post during an interview to talk about the 17th season of “Rachael Ray,” which premiered earlier this month (2 p.m./Ch. 7). “We’re going to an orphanage that’s also a church and a vocational training school and we’re going to build out their kitchens … and make borscht with the children there.
“We’re going to go back to a hospital [in Lviv], which is a central location for anyone who survives attacks, and we might have time to get to a huge cemetery where the greatest of [Ukraine] and the recently fallen casualties of the war are buried.
“I didn’t want to do this, even privately, with a cellphone, because I’m not doing this for personal gain, like, ‘Oh, look at her, she’s doing work there.’ I hate people who wear philanthropy on their sleeves,” she said. “They’re defending democracy for the free world and we can’t lose sight of that — we need to keep [the Ukrainian people] in our hearts, spirits and minds.”
Here in New York, “Rachael Ray” returned to its studio last season following the pandemic. Ray, who did the show remotely for a while from her home in upstate New York — with husband John Cusimano as her cameraman — will continue that hybrid model this season, which opened with a two-part show filmed in Italy.
“A few years ago we opened our home to the TV show and let people see literally every part of or private lives,” she said. “We always kept our home our home, our private space … and even taking pictures there it was like, ‘No, no no.’ I had no choice when we closed the studio during the pandemic … and we’re continuing to do that this year through the end of the season — half in the studio and half upstate.
“I like the mix,” she said, “the fun energy of being in the studio for a prolonged time again. The first couple of days [this season] Kate Hudson and Cameron Diaz were here; they’re both longtime friends of the show and lovely people and to touch them and say hi and hang out backstage was lovely.”
Ray said she doesn’t know what the future holds regarding her syndicated talk show, which premiered in 2006.
“I have to think a lot about it. There are people I want to produce and I want to shoot more from Italy,” she said. “No decisions have been made and, quite frankly, I’ve never been good like that. I only got here [when the show first started] because I don’t plan ahead too much. I let things take on a life of their own.
“I’m not the boss of [whether the show will return for another season], even partially,” she said. “There are larger forces at work — viewership, viewers’ feedback, all the people you work with and the partnerships you form.
“It’s a collective thing — so why worry about something you can’t do anything about in the moment?”