The Wendy Williams Show, once synonymous with salacious Hollywood gossip, has turned against her in the past year, and its devoted host, Wendy Williams, has become the hot gossip everyone is talking about.
In the recent past, Williams and her show have been plagued by misunderstandings, scandals and ongoing health issues. These problems didn’t come to a head until 2021, but the seeds of these problems were sown years before. In 2017, Williams began sparking rumors of health issues after she passed out during her Halloween episode. While the TV presenter especially laughed about the fall, from that moment her health deteriorated. A year later, Williams announced that she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease — an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid gland, causing symptoms such as brain fog, eye problems and forgetfulness, among other symptoms, according to NBC News.
Not only that, but during this time Williams struggled with substance abuse alongside a difficult divorce. But despite the diagnosis and the difficult time, Williams was determined to give her fans the best show. As time went on, those who worked on “The Wendy Williams Show” realized that their combative leader was no longer covering the news, she was becoming news — and insiders wondered if and when they needed to break the news that Williams wasn’t more would be the star of their cover show.
Executives hoped Wendy Williams would be healthy enough for season 13
Despite rumors in the media about Wendy Williams’ condition ahead of season 13 — which was set to air in fall 2021 — officials at The Wendy Williams Show were hoping the star would host the new episodes.
As the season approached, however, Williams began shouting. First, the famous host wasn’t able to do the promotional shots or the interviews that would tease the season. Then, when the star started worrying fans after he was spotted walking around in hospital get-up and then coming down with COVID-19, executives knew not only did they have to postpone the season, but Williams’ staff themselves to allay any fears of the coming season.
As Williams brought employees together as Williams hopped on Zoom, executives realized the rumors about Williams’ condition weren’t far from what they were seeing. “It lasted two and a half, three minutes and it wasn’t pretty,” said Lonnie Burstein, executive vice president of programming for Debmar-Mercury – the show’s production company. “People were kind of freaked out. She said things like ‘Oh I can’t wait, I’ll be back with you soon’, but it was obvious to anyone watching that she wouldn’t be back very soon.” When the conference was convened to to help the show’s staff, the meeting quickly ended as the show’s leaders and staff began putting the puzzle pieces together of Williams’ deteriorating condition.
Wendy Williams’ deteriorating condition happened behind the scenes of the show for years
Wendy Williams’ tangled and troubling meeting with show staff was the final straw for show executives, who then began pieced together the show’s final four years — and the clues Williams had dropped that her health was deteriorating.
According to executives, over a four-year period (which would align with the timeframe following Williams’ downfall in 2017), show executives weren’t always confident that Williams wasn’t under the influence as he headed for the recording. According to sources speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, there have been “at least 25” instances where producers weren’t fully convinced — despite Williams’ objections that she was “fine” — that she wasn’t under the influence. Because the show would be taping multiple episodes in a day, sources said episodes where producers worried about William’s sobriety would be rewatched at a later date to ensure the host didn’t get away under the influence — with just one episode in spring 2021 it was pulled because Williams appeared drunk. Despite Williams’ assurances that she was sober, the show’s staff found “bottles,” according to sources. [of alcohol] up in the ceiling tiles and other weird places in the office.”
As executives pieced together the show’s final years — and Williams’ condition — it became clear that The Wendy Williams Show would no longer be starring Williams himself as they headed into its 13th season.
The future of the Wendy Williams Show
Scheduling The Wendy Williams Show without Wendy Williams was never anyone’s plan. But as time passed and season 13 approached, it became clear that Williams wasn’t in a state where hosting would be beneficial.
Season 13, which aired in fall 2021, featured a number of celebrity presenters, The Hollywood Reporter noted. Leah Remini, Michael Rapaport and Sherri Shepherd have all taken turns guest presenting on the show, with Shepherd bringing in the most views and feedback. And while executives hoped Williams would be back by midseason, it soon became clear that Williams would not be returning — forcing the show to end in June 2022.
In their place is now the upcoming Sherri Shepherd-hosted show “Sherri,” which is slated to begin in the fall. Williams herself has had to be reminded several times that her show was coming to an end and still struggles with ongoing health issues. Executives still said no one knows what’s really going on with Williams, and as a new show airs, those same executives know there’s no one like Williams. “She’s been tough on a lot of celebrities, and a lot of celebrities hate her. That’s why it’s been successful, it knows no bounds,” said Lonnie Burstein, Executive Vice President of Programming at Debmar-Mercury. “Almost nobody can go out and do what Wendy did, just off the cuff, which was perhaps her greatest talent.”