talk show turf

Is Wanda Sykes’s New Show Already Damaging Wendy Williams?


Our inbox is stuffed daily with conspiracy theories, but one recent note claiming behind-the-scenes knowledge of The Wendy Williams Show caught our eye: Is the wannabe drag queen’s new talk show already suffering? And is Wanda Sykes‘s to blame?

Sykes’s new Saturday night Fox show is supposedly stealing celeb bookings from Williams, who’s seen her ratings dwindle after a much-hyped premiere. Along with Monique’s talk show, Sykes is supposedly nabbing the high profile guests Williams’s producers have been angling for.

Just how big a problem is it? Even RuPaul — who’s suddenly back on everyone’s radar thanks to Drag Race — opted not to take part in Williams’s Halloween special. That doesn’t necessarily mean Ru is headed to Wanda’s show; but Williams clearly isn’t the draw her producers thought it would be.

But is Sykes (and Monique) really to blame for Williams’s dilemma? It’s hard to argue as much.

Not only will Sykes’s show, which debuts Nov. 7, take on a different format (talk show, yes, but not “daytime chat fest”), it’s a once-a-week affair airing late night. Her competition is Saturday Night Live, not Williams.

The former radio show host — who is supposedly angling for a Sirius/XM deal — has herself to blame for her show’s early demise. Let’s just be blunt: Williams is not the most skilled daytime talk show host. Even Bonnie Hunt appears more at home on a set, and more comfortable in her own skin, than the rambling and disjointed Williams. But it’s not just her regular Fox slot that’s hurting; Williams’s syndication broadcast on BET is suffering, which means she’s even losing connection with her core audience. (The only thing providing Williams with a BET ratings boost? A lead-in from Monique.)

Some might be cheering on an early death for Williams’s show, it’s unlikely she’s headed toward cancellation anytime soon. Well, unless she continues performing worse than Jerry Springer re-runs.

UPDATE: Responds Feren Communications executive vice president Kelli Stich Mills, on behalf of the show: “Wendy is attracting a fine roster of talent this November, including Wanda Sykes! The show is also doing very well in the ratings according to recently released Nielsen data for the week of October 5-11, 2009 ranking 3rd out of 14 syndicated talk shows, ahead of Regis, Ellen, Tyra and Rachael in the desirable women 18-34 and women 18-49 demographics and posting its highest household rating to date a 1.4. The fact that you have pitted the two shows (which tape in different cities and air in completely different time periods), against each other without asking first for the facts seems unprofessional at best and a sign that Queerty has no interest in the truth or hearing from Wendy who is a great supporter of the LGBT community. Wanda’s segment on Wendy, which was taped yesterday and will be airing Friday, will no doubt generate buzz for their respective shows and all this proves that Queerty’s source is clearly unreliable.”