Sherri Shepherd will launch her own daytime talk show in fall 2022, Variety has learned.
The new syndicated series, titled “Sherri,” will slide into the Fox O&O time slots that are currently held by “The Wendy Williams Show,” as the hit gossip queen, Wendy Williams, continues to be in recovery for health-related issues.
“Sherri” hails from Lionsgate’s Debmar-Mercury, the same company behind “Wendy Williams.” Many production staffers from Williams’ talk show, including her executive producer, will move over to Shepherd’s show in the fall.
Currently, “The Wendy Williams Show” is still in production and airing live shows with rotating guest hosts — including Shepherd, who has been a fan-favorite and highly-rated guest host throughout this season. Williams’ show will continue with guest hosts until in finishes its current season, though an end date has not been determined.
A representative for Williams previously told Variety that she would not be returning to her show this season. In recent days, Williams has denied accusations regarding the state of her mental health, and her attorney had told Variety, “During this hiatus from the show, Wendy has employed holistic health professionals to help her reach optimal health during her treatment of Graves’ disease and thyroid concerns.”
A source familiar with the situation explains that everything is fluid, given Williams’ ongoing recovery, but that the door remains open for the popular personality, who has a hugely committed fanbase. “Wendy’s show will not be on the air this fall and its future is up in the air and uncertain,” an insider said. “When Wendy is back to herself, and if she wants to do the show again, Debmar-Mercury is open to it.”
“Sherri,” which will air on the Fox Television Stations and other broadcasters nationwide, is described as a daily talk show, centered around Shepherd, the actress, comedian, author and former co-host of “The View.” Shepherd has also been in the Fox family, as host of “Dish Nation” with the station group.
Shepherd will serve as an executive producer on her new show, alongside her producing partner, Jawn Murray. David Perler, who has been executive producer and showrunner of “The Wendy Williams Show” for 12 seasons, will serve as executive producer of “Sherri.”
“Sherri is a natural who proved her hosting skills for many years as a panelist on ‘The View,’ on Fox’s ‘Dish Nation’ and again this season as a popular guest host of ‘Wendy,’” Debmar-Mercury co-presidents Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein said, in a prepared statement. “Like our viewers, we have been impressed by the unique comedic twist Sherri puts on our daily live ‘Hot Topics’ segment, her creativity and interactions with our guests. Her love for the content and daytime fans is obvious, and we are excited to partner with her to create another long-term talk franchise.”
The Debmar-Mercury presidents praised Williams, who has been a huge success for their company — and groundbreaking in the daytime space — for more than a decade, ever since she pivoted from a career in radio to television. (Williams’ show started as a test run in the summer of 2008, before launching nationally in 2009.)
“This is also a bitter-sweet moment for us and our partners at Fox,” said Marcus and Bernstein. “We all have a great love and affinity for Wendy, who grew into a true icon during her 12 incredible seasons as the solo host of a live, daily talk show dishing on ‘Hot Topics’ and interviewing celebrities. 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. We hope to be able to work with Wendy again in the future, and continue to wish her a speedy and full recovery.”
In a statement to Variety, a representative for Williams, PR veteran and Hollywood crisis manager Howard Bragman, said on Tuesday morning: “It’s been a challenging time for Wendy as she deals with her health issues. She is incredibly grateful to Debmar-Mercury, to Sherri and everybody else who has supported the show through this time. She, more than anyone, understands the reality of syndicated television — you can’t go to the marketplace and sell a show that’s the ‘Maybe Wendy Show’. She understands why this decision was made from a business point of view, and she has been assured by Debmar-Mercury that should her health get to a point where she can host again and should her desire be that she hosts again that she would be back on TV at that time.”
Hours after Bragman issued that statement to the press, a new Instagram account that is said to have been started by Williams within the past week, posted a response, which reads: “Mr. Bragman although I appreciate your concerns and respect you immensely I have not authorized you to make any statements on my behalf regarding my current status with Debmar Mercury. Again thanks for your continuing concern and support.”
But Bragman is questioning whether Williams is actually running the Instagram account herself. “I’m not honestly convinced of the source of that social media post,” Bragman said in a statement on Tuesday evening. “So when my old friend Wendy FaceTimes me personally and we alone have the chance to discuss recent events, together we can figure out the best path forward.”
(Last week, a different PR representative, who has been speaking to the media regarding Williams’ legal and financial situation, informed Variety of the new Instagram account, stating: “Please send positive messages, energy, and affirmations to her social media that she can read daily. Wendy has started an additional Instagram page @therealwendywilliamsonline, for All Things Wendy.”)
Shepherd is guest-hosting “The Wendy Williams Show” this week. In a statement, she expressed her enthusiasm for her new, upcoming talk show. “OMG! I am so excited to have my dream come true and debut my very own talk show ‘Sherri’ in the fall,” Shepherd said.
Frank Cicha, EVP of programming at the Fox Television Stations commented on Shepherd’s new show: “First of all, thanks to Debmar-Mercury for navigating through an extremely trying situation and providing stations with first-run programming throughout. Secondly, Sherri is the perfect choice for this. Her appeal to our audience is clear, plus she’s already a member of the FTS family as host of ‘Dish Nation.'”
“I can’t wait until I return to NY to host the show and merge everything I love…pop culture, talk, entertainment and comedy,” Shepherd said on TUesday. “I am thankful to Debmar-Mercury and Fox for partnering with me on this show and look forward to this new journey.”
Watch below for Sherri Shepherd’s on-air announcement about her new show:
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a statement posted Tuesday evening the Instagram account, @therealwendywilliamsonline, plus Howard Bragman’s response.