Mr. TV: Wendy Speaks

Larger than life is the best way to describe funny and outspoken Wendy Williams, with whom I had the opportunity to sit down at the recent NATPE conference in Las Vegas. Known, of course, as the brassy, sassy New York DJ, this New York Times best-selling author has expanded her reach into the daytime talk-show realm.

After a successful six-week test run last spring in New York, Los Angeles, Detroit and Dallas, The Wendy Williams Show will be back this summer in a nationally syndicated talker distributed by Debmar-Mercury.

Watch out, Oprah…Wendy wants in on the action.

What made you decide to want to do a talk show?
Well, I am a big fan of the category…everything from the old Mike Douglas Show and Merv Griffin to anything on the air now. I love watching them. I love talking to people. And I just want everyone to have a good old time. This is a format that fits me perfectly.

What kind of show will this be? Entertainment driven? Issue oriented? What will we see? First off, this is a show for everyone, not just celebrities. So if you have something interesting to share, then come on over. No subject will be out of bounds. I will call it as it is. I will give advice. And I want the people at home to have a place to come to every day where they can sit back and forget about their troubles. I want to have fun on this show. But I also want it to be informative and interesting.

Do you have a mentor? Is there someone in talk right now that you want to pattern your show around?
No…this show will revolve around my personality. So, that alone makes it different. We’re not Oprah or Dr. Phil or Regis & Kelly. We’re The Wendy Williams Show, and what you see is what you get with me.

Is there anyone in particular you want to interview?
I would like to get everyone on this show. Actor, author, president, janitor…anyone who has a story to tell. But if I had to pick one person, I choose William Bumpus.

William Bumpus? And who is he?
He’s Gayle King’s ex-husband. I have a few things I want to ask him [laughs].

Obviously, you are known for a few on-air confrontations. Do you ever regret some of the things you say?
Not at all. I am not here to hurt people. Nor am I looking to start fights. But I think the audience is entitled to some honest talk, not an hour where a celebrity can come on to just promote his or her new movie or new book. They want to really get to know the guest. And it is my job to make them feel comfortable enough that they will want to talk. This is not Jerry Springer where I am looking for intentional fights. I would never ask anyone something I would not answer myself.

Are you worried about the odds of something new in syndicated talk succeeding? Will you watch your ratings?
Worried? No. I can’t control who will watch…or who won’t watch. But what I can control is the show itself and I definitely have my opinions. And, yes, I do want to know how the show is doing. Good or bad, I want to be informed. If I’m putting myself out there, I want to know exactly what is going on.

Will you also do your radio show once the talk show is back?
Oh yes. I don’t want to give that up. But as busy as I am, I am still a housewife at heart. I still love cooking and prancing around the house. And that is exactly what I will do every Sunday.

After sitting down face to face, the last thing I would think is you are a housewife.
Listen, I am a New Jersey girl. I tried to be the perfect housewife the first time I was married. It didn’t work. But now I have a wonderful husband, a wonderful son and I can have it all. It’s not easy, but it is worth trying to achieve.

Can we expect you to toss your hat up in the air à la Mary Tyler Moore?
Anything is possible, baby!    

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