‘Wendy Williams Show’ Ending, New Sherri Shepherd Show Ahead

(AP) — “The Wendy Williams Show” will end because of Williams’ prolonged health-related absence and be replaced this fall with a show hosted by Sherri Shepherd, the producer of both TV programs said Tuesday.

The new daytime show, titled “Sherri,” will “inherit” the time slots on Fox owned-and-operated stations that have been the backbone of Williams’ nationally syndicated talk show since 2008, producer and distributor Debmar-Mercury said.

“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,” company co-presidents Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein 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 executives said. They also expressed their “great love and affinity for Wendy” and admiration for her success.

The company declined to comment further on her recent health issues, which Williams herself has not discussed other than in generalities.

In a statement, Williams spokesman Howard Bragman said it’s been a “challenging time” as she deals with her health and is grateful to Debmar-Mercury, Shepherd and others who have supported her show.

Williams knows “the reality of syndicated television — you can’t go to the marketplace and sell a show that’s the ‘Maybe Wendy Show,’” Bragman said, and understands the decision from a “business point of view.”

Reflecting the company’s statement, he said Williams has been assured that if her health rebounds — and she wants to host again — “she would be back on TV at that time.”

“OMG! I am so excited to have my dream come true and debut my very own talk show” in New York, actor-comedian Shepherd, a former co-host of “The View,” said in a statement. “Sherri” will combine her love of “pop culture, talk, entertainment and comedy,” she said.

“The Wendy Williams Show” has relied on a string of guest hosts, Shepherd among them, since the start of its 13th year last fall. Built on Williams’ popularity as a brash radio host, the show has been a success for Lionsgate-owned Debmar-Mercury.

Shepherd proved the most popular sub for Williams, Debmar-Mercury said, and the show’s ratings held up during her appearances. Production will continue on “The Wendy Williams Show” through the current season, with rotating fill-in hosts, including Shepherd.

Williams last taped her show in July 2021, when season 12 wrapped. Production on the current season was delayed last September because she had a “breakthrough” case of COVID-19, the show said at the time. Reasons for her continuing absence were not subsequently detailed.

Williams’ health didn’t intrude on her TV work until 2017, when she fainted during the show and took a three-week leave. Williams said in 2018 that she had been diagnosed years before with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune condition that affects the thyroid.