GERALDO . . . ER, MAKE THAT GERALD RIVERA'S MOMS TELL ALL!

Published: Monday, July 15 1991 12:00 a.m. MDT

But alas, no child has thus far been conceived that Peg and Lilly know of. "They've had hardships," sighs Peg, "because of wanting to have a baby. C.C.'s brothers and sisters breed like rabbits and her mother certainly had no trouble." Peg, like Lilly, also has five children.

When asked if they were still trying, Lilly smiles and says, "As far as I know."

Geraldo goes straight - to moms for advice. After broadcasting an endless stream of schlock and shock, Gerald, er, Geraldo, decided last year he'd done enough of the stories about topless doughnut shops, teen-age prostitutes, nyphomaniacs and the men of Chippendale's.

In a widely touted image change, the new Geraldo, declared Newsday, is "at times serious-minded, wholesome, prosaic and even dull." A show last week reunited Geraldo with the pretty cherleader he had taken to the prom in 1961, back when he was called Gerry.

Peg says, "I don't care for menage a trois (as a show topic). He's best with news reports. I tell him that all the time. I say, 'Geraldo, I hate that junk.' I know there's a seamy side of life, but I don't want to hear about it."

"When I read about his `sleazy' show," adds Lilly, "I get so angry. Donahue's doing the same thing right now, so's Oprah. So why don't they (the media) call their shows `sleazy'? It's just that they have given him a reputation and he's really outgrown it. Give him the credit now."

A man in a bushy moustache only a mother could love. Critics sneered in 1986 when the highly theatrical Geraldo opened Al Capone's vault - live - only to find dusty bottles instead of secret treasures. Then the public was outraged when his special "American Vice: The Doping of America" put live drug busts on the air, showing those involved on TV before their guilt was legally established. After that, he almost self-destructed when his talk show, launched in 1987, ravaged the airwaves with garbage. Advertisers pulled their commercials, and stations carrying the show protested.

"I watch the show all the time," says Lilly proudly. "I check to see if he has circles under his eyes. I check his haircut."

King of TV tabloid talk shows - shut up, already. Lilly describes herself as a quiet person. Still, she has no problem bragging about her son to her buddies in the butterscotch-stucco building where she lives. The one problem she does have with rapid-fire Geraldo is keeping up with him in conversation.

"I talk slowly on the phone," she says, "and he talks . . . (she snaps her fingers). I say, `Geraldo, give me a break. Let me get my thoughts here.' "

Geraldo hates pests. Sensational-style reporter Geraldo was tied up for almost a decade in a lawsuit where a woman he interviewed for 20/20 sued because a hidden TV camera and recorder were used without her permission (the case was dismissed).

What's Geraldo really like? "He always has patience and time for his family," says mother-in-law No. 4.

But Geraldo's mom can't resist griping mildly. "He was always pushing for everything as a child. I had to lay it on the line when we disagreed, and say, 'Look, I'm your mother'," recalls Lilly sternly.

Then she relaxes, and adds with a smile, "I have to express myself. When I don't think he's taking my advice, suddenly on one of his shows, he'll say, `My mom said this.' "

Lilly's face breaks into a smile and she says with great satisfaction, "So he is listening."

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