'Wendy Williams Show' Reportedly Taking Drastic Measures to Fill Audience During Host's Health Absence
The Wendy Williams Show will be without its titular host for another week while Wendy Williams continues to recover from health complications, so comedian Whitney Cummings will serve as the second guest host of the season. The show is reportedly having trouble finding fans to pack the studio audience, inspiring producers to take drastic measures. They are now offering to pay people to attend the show.
Producers are offering $75 to non-union, vaccinated people to attend this week's episodes with Cummings, according to an email obtained by Page Six. An online notice also surfaced, assuring anyone who receive a ticket their payment on the same day. They are asked to arrive at the New York City studio at 8:30 a.m. and must be fully vaccinated. All audience members are required to wear masks at all times. Applications for Monday's show are already filled, but there are still slots available for the rest of the week.
The Wendy Williams Show Season 13 finally premiered on Oct. 18, with a panel of Bevy Smith, Elizabeth Wagmeister, Michael Yo, and Devyn Simone sitting in for Williams. On Tuesday, former The Talk co-host Leah Remini came in to guest host the final four episodes of the week. Cummings will begin a one-week run on Monday. Former The View co-host Sheri Shepard will host from Nov. 1-5, confirming that Williams will not be back until at least the second week of November.
"Nobody can ever replace Wendy but we will do what we can to fill in so she can come back stronger than ever," Cummings posted on Instagram last week. "She's gone so hard for so long and as much as I miss seeing her every day, just imagine how hilarious she's gonna be after some time to take care of herself and have some quiet time to think! Feel free to send me topics you guys want covered! We all wanna make Wendy proud."
The new season was supposed to start on Sept. 20, but Williams' health forced several postponements. First, her promotional work before the season was set to start was canceled. Then, producers announced she tested positive for a breakthrough case of COVID-19 and was hospitalized for complications stemming from Graves' Disease and her thyroid condition. Another premiere date was set for Oct. 4, but Williams missed that as well. When producers set Oct. 18 as the premiere, they confirmed guest hosts would have to sit in for Williams.
Sources told Page Six that Williams' delay became a major issue for station affiliates who committed to airing the show and advertisers. Producers appeared to respond to that situation when the show's social media team posted a message on Facebook reading, "We very much appreciate the respect for Wendy's privacy, as well as all the good wishes from her fans, station partners, and advertisers." Williams herself has not publicly commented on the situation. She was using the show's own Instagram page herself up until Aug. 22, when she posted a selfie of herself on a plane right back from Miami to New York.