BWW Interviews: Talk Show Host Wendy Williams Chats New Season
Wendy Williams hosts the nationally-syndicated weekday program, THE Wendy Williams SHOW, which airs in 52 countries. The show, which began its fourth season this month, is taped live in New York and offers a diverse mix of interviews with celebrity guests from television, film, music and sports. Prior to achieving success in daytime television, Williams built a devoted audience of fans throughout an enormously successful 23-year career in radio. The nationally syndicated “The Wendy Williams Experience” was Williams’ top-rated, daily radio show which was listened to by an audience of more than 12 million people.
Williams competed on Season 12 of ABC’s hit dancing competition “Dancing With The Stars,” has hosted Game Show Network’s original series “Love Triangle,” and appeared as a featured guest on ABC’s “One Life to Live” and Lifetime’s “Drop Dead Diva.” She is also the author of The New York Times best seller The Wendy Williams Experience (Dutton Books), as well as several novels including 'Ritz Harper Goes to Hollywood.' The multi-talented host took time out of her busy schedule to speak with TalkTVWorld about the exciting new season of her show!
I know that Season 4 recently launched and features a bigger studio among other exciting changes. Has this added to the energy of the show?
No - you know I think the energy was first and the look came second. One of the great things about getting a new studio, first of all, we're HD, we also needed a bigger space so we can fit more people now in our studio audience and our staff now has bigger areas to do their magic. As far as the energy, the energy comes from within. It starts with me as the host, and then the audience show up in their colorful clothing and they clap and they say it like they mean it. So no, the energy of the show has always been high. The studio is just more room for us to be energetic in!
You've also extended the hot topics segment this season.
Yes. Hot Topics used to be maybe ten minutes, and if we had more hot topics we'd take a commercial break and then come back and give it maybe three or sometimes four more minutes. Now Hot Topics is twenty minutes before we even go into the first commercial break so it's not just extended, it's also seamless.
I'm sure this is one of the most popular segments of the show.
I do have to say, Hot Topics is definitely a fan favorite and people had been asking for more Hot Topics and sometimes we would even have full shows, nothing but Hot Topics, no celebrity guests or anything. And those are always fun. But for this season, the idea that we can give them even more Hot Topics uninterrupted is just fantastic.
Are you ever surprised at some of the things that come up in that segment?
Nothing to me is really shocking with celebrity behavior, although I do have to say, the other day, showing disturbing pictures of Snoop Dog getting his bong lit by his son who is 18, that was a little disturbing. Celebrity behavior doesn't really shock me but every once in a while, I get shocked and that would be one of them. I get more shocked during 'Ask Wendy.' I love when people stand up and ask me for advice, I love, love, love it. I've been doing 'Ask Wendy' since I had my radio career going, but sometimes when people ask things like, "I've been screwing around with him and I know he has a wife, but I don't care I'm going to keep doing it. Wendy am I wrong?" and I'm like, "Do you realize you are on TV and everybody sees this?"
Do you ever follow up with these stories?
There are a couple I have followed up with. Not in terms of me calling them, but I will say to them when we go into the commercial break, I will whisper, "When you get back to Philly and she sees you, you realize that she is going to get in your face, so follow me on Facebook and let me know what happened. Or send me an email." And every once in a while they'll be someone in the audience that did an 'Ask Wendy' and I'm able to follow up with them that way.
You mentioned Facebook. I know that you are a big fan of social media. Is that because you love interacting with your fans, or because it gives you feedback, or a little of both?
I love getting feedback from 'Wendy Watchers' as far as what they're thinking. And let me tell you, my watchers, they say it like they mean it. If they don't like a wig, if they do like a wig, if they don't like a celebrity, if they do like a celebrity, they wish that they could see more celebrity look-a-likes, and celebrity fan-out, which are two segments we do on the show, they love a dress I had on, they hate a dress I had on, they think I gained weight, or whatever. You know you have to be careful for what you wished for but I've grown very thick-skinned and I do enjoy seeing what my Wendy Watchers are saying!
Have you always been so fascinated with popular culture and trends?
Always. Always. I picked a career that happened to be conducive for the person that I am and the person who I was. You know even though we change, there's a difference between who I was at 20 years old as a college girl and who I am now at 48 years old. But you have to pull The Common threads from your behavior when you were in your 20's and pick a major and stick with it. So for me, a common thread was that I do like pop culture, I do like to read my magazines and I do like to watch TV and see what's going on. And I do like, even if I don't wear a trend, I do like fashion and I do like conversation and how can I make all this work in a career? So yes, first it was Wendy and then the career.
It's great that you are able to have a career that involves something you have a true passion for. So many kids are coming out of college without really knowing what they want to do.
I know. First of all, I didn't come from rich, I came from very humble beginnings. So there was no time to waffle on what my career was going to be. I knew what I wanted to be from the time I was in 6th or 7th grade. I wanted to be a newscaster or radio personality and I ended up being a radio personality and then through gaining recognition from radio, all kinds of other great things happened, including writing five books, and included getting this talk show.
Amazing! And along the lines of your career, you are a mother and a wife, and though this sounds a little cliche, do you believe that women can have it all?
Well, I think we can make an attempt to have it all. But something has got to give. Yeah, we can make an attempt but we can't have it all and do all things well and I think the more we share that, the more prepared younger girls will be. I think I'm a pretty good mother. I think that I can do better, in staying in touch with teachers, and making sure the homework is checked over. You know I will often fall asleep without checking over homework, just taking his word for it that he did it. You know what I mean? I'm not the best cook but I try to do what I can. We can make an attempt to have it all, but it will all never be perfect.
It was so much fun to watch you on Dancing With the Stars. What was that experience like for you?
The experience was fun. You know it was one of those things where I am not a dancer at all. But when I got the invitation to be part of Dancing With the Stars, how can you turn that down? First of all, they've got a phenomenal viewership, it's a chance to do something that normally is not in your comfort zone and I met some great people, like Kirstie Alley, I had a very nice dance partner Tony, and I now know the inner workings of the one of most popular shows on TV. And, I'm also part of a club that you don't get to be a part of unless you go on Dancing With the Stars. Me, Susan Lucci, Michael Bolton, Kim Kardashian, we've all whispered to one another about our experiences on the show. And it's just wonderful - Cloris Leachman, she's been on my show a few times, she was on. It's a real club.
Yes, that's the sense you get when you're watching it on TV. And I know you were flying back and forth between coasts - it must have been exhausting.
That was exhausting but it was worth it. And you know what, and I'll be honest, when I was cut, I was thankful. I was exhausted from flying back and forth, a negligent mother, you know what I mean? My mother and father came to town and stayed at our house and made sure that little Kev stayed the course in school and everything but you don't have children to push them off on other people. And this is what I mean by women, we can attempt to have it all but, what the hell, you know! (laughing)
Well best of luck with Season 4. Sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun!
For more on THE Wendy Williams SHOW check out:
Photo credit: Karl Giant