WENDY WILLIAMS OPENS HER BIG MOUTH: And she just keeps going and going
and going. Just (ask) Whitney.
by Ricardo Hazell
(Feb. 7, 2003) *Once upon a time a celebrity or newsmaker could expect to sit down with a
reporter or writer and expect a smooth, non-threatening almost gushing interview. Later,
as scandals and the like became the norm, reporters began going into interviews hoping to
get an exclusive nugget or two, but most of the realness came from so-called
"friends" and associates of the interview subject. These days, though the
formula remains the same, the hunger of the masses for tabloid style, sensationalistic
reporting has given birth to a class of gossiper commonly known as the shock jock. This is
the category in which radio personality Wendy Williams of WBLS in New York City.
Though she has been known to ruffle feathers during her sessions, and with her
scintillating and cutting gossip, she has managed to have topnotch celebrities visit and
revisit her show regularly. A subject of particular interest to Williams in the past has
been superstar entertainer Whitney Houston. She has spoken about the Arista Recording
artists trials and tribulations many times in the past and, it appears, Ms. Houston was
listening and was not appreciative of the manner in which her name was used. EUR/EURweb
was fortunate enough to catch up with Wendy Williams and ask her, in the immortal words of
Busta Rhymes, 'What da dilly...yo?' With all the people she has gotten to we're surprised
no one has run up on her yet.
"The types of questions I ask people are questions I personally want to know the
answers to," said Williams via her cell phone. "The questions can be very
personal for celebrities, but, oh well."
Though it may seem as though reporters are lying in wait preparing to pounce on
unsuspecting newsmakers, that's not all true. Even Williams admits there is some
hesitation, but she just powers through it. In her words she'll just "take a deep
breath and go in. The types of questions I ask people are questions that I want to know
the answers to as well and sometimes those questions can be very personal."
Understandably, Williams has gotten more than a few threats. The most memorable is the one
Tupac gave on an unreleased track. But Williams said no one ever follows through.
"No, believe it or not, nothing like that has ever happened in my entire career. I
know people are going to say 'Oh, she's lying' but it's true. You know, at the end of the
day I find that people whose persona is really stuff and things like that, they're
basically cowards. I've been out in parties and situations with people who ... we might be
on each others bad side or what have you, but nothing big.
On the other hand, the biggest confrontation she ever had occurred recently and it was
with someone who should've know better.
"I was interviewing Judge Mathis and he called me the F-word and walked out of the
studio and that's because I was getting under his skin with an issue very close to home,
recalled Williams. "He came to New York to promote his new book and I mentioned to
him an article that I had read. Mind you, Judge Mathis and I are friendly. He has been on
my show to promote his show. So, when his book came out it was only natural for him to
come on my show to promote his book. I mentioned an incident relating to he and an extra
marital affair, the use of cocaine by him, marijuana by him, kinky sex, including
three-way sex, and he had a fall out with this girl and she alleges that he became
physically threatening toward her."
Williams says that when she asked Mathis about the alleged incident, he became very, uh,
"You know the saying 'Thou doth protest too much' I watched him show out and
everybody was absolutely floored. He went into the other room and at the time I was
shooting a pilot for an upcoming VH1 special and my husband was there. So, he stormed out
and went to where my employees and my husband was and he was like 'You want some of this
too!' It wasn't very judge like. He was more like a guilty defendant."
And here we were looking up to da judge, and his ghetto self. Oh well. Anyway, we wanted
to get down to the Whitney business. but we didn't want to be rude and cut her off. Yeah,
picture that, the EUR not wanting to be rude. We sat patiently through her book story and
the story about how she was offered a spot as a sidekick to Rosie O'Donnell when her now
defunct show was in its early stages and ... GASP ... finally we got down to some Whit
"I got a call at my radio station (WBLS) in New York saying 'Whitney Houston is going
to call you in 15 minutes. She wants to interview with you to help sell her CD. The first
week of sales did well for Whitney, or any artist. The sales have since fallen.' Needless
to say, she now had to do some press to sell her CD. They said her phone call can only be
about the CD and I bit my tongue and rejected the interview. People don't care about the
CD, they wanna find out what's going on with Whitney in her personal life and the alleged
drug problems and all the stuff Diane Sawyer talked about. But the label said 'fine' and
canceled it. 15 minutes later the phone rang, and it was Whitney herself.
"She started off with saying 'Wendy, Wendy, Wendy in exhaustion.' We talked about her
music maybe 2% of the whole interview. I realized from talking with Whitney that there
were two Whitney Houstons. There's Whitney in her right mind, then there's nutty Whitney.
The Whitney I was talking to was the nutty Whitney, and I knew that 50 seconds into the
conversation. I asked her who set up the Diane Sawyer interview, because my next statement
was going to be that that person needs to be fired, and she told me she set that up. I
asked her whether abuse was an issue in her marriage and she said the media was an issue
... 'you people. You people who talk about me. You hide in the trees and wait for me to
come out of my house.' She was very defensive during the interview, as well she should be
because the whole country has backed her into a corner. Especially we as black people
getting on her about her neurotic behavior. Though her music is not selling, Whitney
Houston is timeless. I would take a Whitney Houston career over a Britney Spears career
any day. But Whitney has done this to herself. Anybody who has dealt with substance abuse
knows that you eventually reach a point where you no longer have discreet behavior. I was
a substance abuser for many years, so I know."
Indeed, although Williams' style is abrasive and confrontational, the success of her show
is apparent. But what, we asked Williams, does she have to say to her enemies?
"Well, to those people who don't like my style, I totally understand. Everything is
not for everybody. There's nothing I can say. I don't intend on changing my style
unnaturally. People who love my style thought that I was too soft on Whitney. Other people
that love my style thought that I was good for holding my tongue while Whitney lashed out
at me. I could have jumped down her throat on a number of different levels. People who
heard excerpts of my interview on Access Hollywood, BET News or what have you only saw
small parts. Whitney was not in her right mind. She was ghetto, and I mean GHET-TO! People
who come to my show know what to expect. For instance, Mariah Carey came on my show. We
had a face to face and she brought champagne and Chinese food we talked for two hours. She
didn't walk out or get upset of nothing like that. She was a perfect lady and a girlfriend
and she defended herself. Jennifer Lopez came into the studio and we chatted for an hour
and a half. She never came out of her skin, beautiful!"
In closing, Wendy WIlliams told the EUR peeps that she just loves what she does and that
is what propels her forward everyday.
"So many of the people on the radio in this country want to be actors or they want to
be rappers or they want to become friends with the rappers. Nobody wants to just enjoy
what they're doing, they want to be as close to the subject as possible. If you wanna be
like me, then you're not going to be invited to Bali (by Puffy), or get invited out to the
Hamptons or the big, splashy Jay-Z fireworks display. I would rather do a good radio show
and have Jay-Z hate my guts. I never was big on hob knobbing with the celebrities so I
feel freer to talk to them however I please without worrying about the repercussions of
asking a certain question."
Today New York, tomorrow, well maybe in a couple of months, the world! Yep, Wendy Williams
is going national and global via VH1 and radio syndication. more about that in a future
EUR report. -- Interview by Lee Bailey
NEWSFILE: 7 FEBRUARY 2003