‘Wendy Williams Show’ Producer Speaks Out on Host’s Diagnosis: “There Were Early Signs”

Written by on February 27, 2024

(The Hollywood Reporter) – The Wendy Williams Show‘s co-executive producer is reflecting on working with her former talk show host following the news of her diagnosis being made public. Suzanne Bass says there were early signs pointing to what has now been publicly revealed to be primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia diagnosis (FTD).

“You can go back and see the show, and there’s really long periods of quietness where she’s not speaking,” Bass told People, two days after a press release was sent out, claiming to be from her care team, announcing Williams’ diagnosis, which impacts language, communication behavior and cognitive function. “And you’re thinking, ‘What’s happening?’ There were early signs [of something wrong] where you’re grasping for words, having a hard time collecting your thoughts and remembering things. Maybe that’s what was happening back then.”

The Wendy Williams Show ran for 14 seasons from 2008 to 2022. The show relied on a rotating group of hosts for the entire final season, as Williams was absent from her eponymous series while dealing with health issues, which were then described as a case of COVID-19 and ongoing complications from Graves’ disease, an immune disorder. Williams first sparked fears for her health in 2017, when she fainted live on-air during a Halloween episode. As The Hollywood Reporter detailed in an August 2022 cover story, longtime producers Debmar-Mercury made the decision to pull the plug following a concerning 2021 Zoom session with Williams.

Bass told People that there has been a glimmer of hope since Williams went off the air that she would make a comeback, but that “since this diagnosis, that seems impossible. It makes me very sad.”

Bass said she has only spoken with Williams a few times since the talk show ended, and Williams would struggle to remember things during their calls.

“I do know it takes time to diagnose conditions like this,” she said. “To have this sort of diagnosis, there’s some finality to it.”

Williams’ diagnosis was made public two days ahead of the release of Where Is Wendy Williams?, a devastating Lifetime docuseries centered on the former talk show host and her declining health. The documentary, which counts Williams as an executive producer, began as a project to document her comeback but quickly evolved into a different piece.

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