Within moments of meeting Wendy Williams, veteran talkshow producer Rob Dauber felt confident he’d found daytime’s next great female host. And he should know: He’s worked with Oprah, Rosie and Martha.
“I see in Wendy a lot of what I see in those incredible women,” Dauber says. “She figured out her voice a long time ago. She can connect with an audience. … She has just the right mix of realness and outrageousness.”
America will see for itself in July, when “The Wendy Williams Show” will premiere in syndication following its successful six-week test run in four major markets last summer. According to Dauber, the New York-based skein’s exec producer, the live one-hour chatfest will revolve around a combination of celeb guests, lifestyle topics and “Ask Wendy” advice segments. “From the test run, we learned we want to keep it fun, keep it light,” he says. “We want it to be a place where the viewer can escape for an hour every day.”
During his 25-year career, Dauber has proved adept at identifying a host’s strengths and tailoring a show to them. He won four Emmys for his work on “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” and helped develop “The Martha Stewart Show,” where he served as co-executive producer for its first two seasons. He describes his most recent stint, as a supervising producer on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” as the culmination of a longtime dream.
Dauber believes “viewers want to see something they can relate to,” and that includes Williams, a woman who’s been open about her past struggles with addiction and her more recent dalliances with plastic surgery. “She’s not perfect, and she’s not afraid to show it,” Dauber says. “Even though their hair may not be as big and blonde, and they might not have the chest that Wendy does, I think a lot of women in America are gonna see themselves in her.”