Photo: The Associated Press
“Sherri,” hosted by Sherri Shepherd, is set to replace “The Wendy Williams Show” this fall following Williams’ prolonged health-related absence, Shepherd confirmed Tuesday. Shepherd is the producer of both TV programs.
Producer and distributor Debmar-Mercury said that the new daytime show “Sherri” will take over “The Wendy Williams Show” on Fox owned-and-operated stations that have aired Williams’ talk show since 2008.
“Since Wendy is still not available to host the show as she continues on her road to recovery, we believe it is best for our fans, stations and advertising partners to start making this transition now,” Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein, the company’s co-presidents, said in a statement.
“We hope to be able to work with Wendy again in the future, and continue to wish her a speedy and full recovery,” the two executives said. They added that they have “great love and affinity for Wendy” and admire her success.
There was no further comment on Williams’ recent health issues, a topic that Williams herself has not discussed outside of general information.
Williams’ spokesman Howard Bragman explained in a statement that it has been a “challenging time” for the media personality as she deals with her health. Bragman also stated that Williams is grateful to Debmar-Mercury, Shepherd, and other supporters of her show.
Bragman continued that Williams knows “the reality of syndicated television — you can’t go to the marketplace and sell a show that’s the ‘Maybe Wendy Show.” He added that he understands the decision from a “business point of view.”
As in the company’s statement, Bragman said that Williams has been assured to be “back on TV” if her health rebounds.
The stability represented by Shepherd as she takes over Williams’ time slot is essential as changes in daytime TV near, according to Debmar-Mercury. “The Ellen Degeneres Talk Show” is also set to end this season, which leaves its viewers to search for alternatives over the fall, including Drew Barrymore and Kelly Clarkson-hosted shows and another one led by Jennifer Hudson.
In a statement, Shepherd, an actor-comedian and a former co-host of “The View,” said she is excited to “have my dream come true” and to debut her very own talk show. She said that “Sherri” will be a blend of her love for “pop culture, talk, entertainment and comedy.”
Shepherd had also been one of the guest hosts on “The Wendy Williams Show” when the talk show began to rely on a string of guest hosts at the start of its 13th year last fall. It was built on Williams’ popularity as a bold radio host, and it has been a success for Lionsgate-owned Debmar-Mercury.
The show’s ratings held up during Shepherd’s appearances, and Debmar-Mercury deemed her fit to take over Williams as she proved to be the most popular sub on the show. Production of “The Wendy Williams Show” will continue through the current season. It will feature Shepherd and other rotating fill-in hosts.
Frank Cicha, an executive vice president of Fox Television stations, said that Shepherd is the “perfect choice” to have a show of her own. He added that she has already proven her appeal to the Fox audience, and he also thanked Debmar-Mercury for going through “an extremely trying situation.”
Shepherd will remain as a co-host on Fox TV stations’ “Dish Nation.” She previously appeared on “The View” before becoming a co-host from 2007-2014. From the start of her entertainment career, Shepherd has acted in various TV programs, including “The Jamie Foxx Show,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “30 Rock,” and, recently, “The Sex Lives of College Girls.” Shepherd has also made a mark in movies with “Beauty Shop” and “Who’s Your Caddy?”
She will co-produce “Sherri” alongside producing partner Jawn Murray and David Perler. Perler has also previously worked in all but one season of “The Wendy Williams Show.”
Williams’ ‘break from New York’
Williams last taped her show with the wrap of season 12 in July 2021. The show explained that production on the current season saw some delays last September because of Williams’ “breakthrough” case of COVID-19. However, her continuing absence afterward was not explained.
It wasn’t until 2017 that Williams’ health intruded on her TV work. She fainted during the show and took leave for three weeks. In 2018, Williams said that she had previously been diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune condition affecting the thyroid.
Not one to shy away from being blunt, Williams also said that her longtime cocaine use that began in college turned her into a “functioning addict” before she managed to stop. However, on a March 2019 episode of “The Wendy Williams Show,” Williams tearfully explained that she was living “in a sober house” and had a 24/7 sobriety coach. She no longer specified why.
In a video posted last week, Williams is spotted strolling on a beach in Florida. An off-screen interviewer, whom she identifies as her son, Kevin Hunter Jr., asks how she’s doing and what her activities are, including plans to go to the gym.
William replies in the video that while she’s taking “a break from New York” – the filming site for the show – she will be coming back “stronger.” She also vaguely referred to “things that happen to you” at around the age of 40 and that “they go on from there.”
Questions arose regarding some of Williams’ references in the clip, such as stating that she is 56 when she is 57. Williams’ spokeswoman clarified that she merely misspoke.