Why Wendy Williams Refuses To Play The Hollywood Game

Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images.
I don't consider an out of office day complete if I don't kick back with a hot coffee and even hotter gossip brought to me by the queen of tea, Wendy Williams. Her "How you doin'?" and delectable sashay across The Wendy Williams Show stage is truly the best part of my morning.
I'm not the only one. Her cult-like following includes an army of fans in the millions, making hers a top-10 syndicated daytime talk show. Which is why, when profiled by Elle, Williams bemoans why she has yet to be recognized by her peers and her industry and win a Daytime Emmy.
“Who’s a better talk show host?!” she asks writer R. Eric Thomas. “Don’t have one! Don’t have one!” she says, adding, “Will probably never get [a Daytime Emmy]. But it’s okay. You know why? Because I’ve got the power of the people.”
Williams understands better than any of us why she has been overlooked in the 10 years she's been on air and might never be recognized by the Emmys. The very members who would be voting on Williams are connected to or are the ones she so often talks about, criticizes, and even ridicules on the show. Bruised egos are very slow to heal. The industry's elitist mindset also tends to recognize highbrow content as entertainment, and categorizes series like The Wendy Williams Show as bottom-rung trash TV (although TMZ on TV has been nominated for an Emmy, and that is a televised equivalent of a tabloid at a supermarket checkout). Racism undoubtedly also plays a role, as so many of the guests and topics Williams touches on are unapologetically Black.
And, of course, Williams doesn't play the game, eschewing a chummy relationship with celebrities to keep her show as honest and raw as possible.
Ellen DeGeneres, another syndication giant, plays the game and is rewarded with an endless slew of celebrity exclusives revealed on The Ellen Show. Need more proof? Look no further than all the photos from DeGeneres' 60th birthday party, which looked like fun and featured more stars than the Oscars. Oh, you need even more proof? Both Barack and Michelle Obama appeared on her show multiple times .If DeGeneres wins a Daytime Emmy in 2018, it'll be the show's record-breaking 11th win for Best Talk Show. (The previous champion was...Ellen with 10, and before that The Oprah Winfrey Show with nine).
But Williams and DeGeneres' styles are worlds apart. Williams, a former radio DJ, is more like Howard Stern in her candor, something the two always respected about each other. That appreciation was tested in an awkward interview when Williams appeared on Stern's SiriusXM radio show in July 2017. Williams criticized Stern for being a "star fucker" and getting overly friendly with his celebrity guests, something she said she stays away from.
And therein lies the rub: It would be next to impossible for Williams to keep the humor, honest takedowns, and the nothing-to-lose approach to parsing out entertainment gossip if she was also concerned with maintaining a friendship or relationship with the star she was discussing. That kind of church-and-state separation would be impossible. Saturday Night Live mocks celebrities, too, though never in the targeted, personal, bullying way Williams does. For that, it has been rewarded with a copious amount of nominations and wins at the primetime Emmys.
There are signs that the attitude is changing, though. New York State gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon recently gave her exclusive first national TV interview to Williams.
If turning her back on her brutal candor is the price Williams — and fans — must pay to be recognized by her peers, then Daytime Emmy be damned. It's time for hot topics!
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