After 13 seasons, the controversial show is coming to an end.
Wendy Williams might be hanging up her cap for good. This week, Debmar-Mercury, the television syndication company that produces and distributes The Wendy Williams Show, announced that Williams’ daytime talk show will come to an end after 13 seasons.
The announcement comes amid the media personality’s recent health struggles, which has led to a rotating lineup of guest hosts filling in for her throughout this past season. Her show will instead be replaced by Sherri, a daytime talk show of the same vein hosted by actress and comedian Sherri Shepherd, who was one of the frequent guest hosts (others included Whitney Cummings and Jerry Springer) who filled in for Williams during her absence. Williams has spoken publicly before about her battles with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease, which resulted in previous hiatuses from her show.
"It's been a challenging time for Wendy as she deals with her health issues. She is incredibly grateful to Debmar-Mercury, to Sherri and everybody else who has supported the show through this time," a spokesperson for Williams said in a statement to Variety in response to the recent announcement. Despite the apparent cancellation, though, Williams’s response indicated the possibility of a return.
“She, more than anyone, understands the reality of syndicated television — you can't go to the marketplace and sell a show that's the ‘Maybe Wendy Show,’” her spokesperson said. “She understands why this decision was made from a business point of view, and she has been assured by Debmar-Mercury that should her health get to a point where she can host again and should her desire be that she hosts again that she would be back on TV at that time."
News of the cancellation is not only noteworthy as the end of Williams’s long-running and highly successful show, but also as a sign of a potential retirement of sorts for her as a media personality. For better or worse, Williams has been a prominent media figure, first building up her reputation as a polarizing radio shock jockette (she was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2009) who was often seen as chaotic and meme-worthy in her decades of commenting on pop culture and interviewing stars.
Over the years, she’s received backlash for spiky interviews with stars like Whitney Houston and for making cavalier comments about sexual assault and the personal lives of stars she dished about — all the while speaking publicly about the struggles in her own personal life, from drug addiction to infidelity in her marriage.
Yet, for fans of Williams’s lighthearted celebrity gossip chatter, Shepherd’s show will ostensibly take the mantle (including continuing Williams’s own popular “Hot Topics” segment), and likely to less controversial effect.
“OMG! I am so excited to have my dream come true and debut my very own talk show Sherri in the fall,” Shepherd told Variety. “I can’t wait until I return to NY to host the show and merge everything I love…pop culture, talk, entertainment and comedy. I am thankful to Debmar-Mercury and Fox for partnering with me on this show and look forward to this new journey.”