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Wendy Williams sets return date to her TV show

Wendy Williams attends the 50th anniversary celebration of

Wendy Williams attends the 50th anniversary celebration of Wilhelmina Models in New York on Nov. 14, 2017. Credit: Getty Images for Wilhelmina Models / Ilya S. Savenok

Wendy Williams, whose daytime talk show has been in reruns during her hiatus for health reasons, will return March 19, with actor Jerry O’Connell filling in next week as the first guest host in the program’s nearly 10-year history.

“Jerry has been such a good friend to me and to the show,” Williams, 53, said in a statement Tuesday. “We’re happy to welcome him as a guest host while I’m out getting much-needed rest.”

O’Connell, 44, who has starred in series including Fox / Syfy’s “Sliders” (1995-2000) and CBS’ “The Defenders” (2010-2011) and “We Are Men” (2013), said in the same statement, “I am excited to help out and fill in. We all know nobody can fill the purple chair like Wendy, but I am honored to sit with her co-hosts and to bring the many fans all the Hot Topics they love. Like Wendy tells us, ‘I am going to Say It Like I Mean It,’ ” a reference to the line “Say it like you mean it” in the syndicated program’s theme song.

Afterward, Williams said in a tweet, “Hey @MrJerryOC thanks for being my guest host while I’m out getting some much needed rest. See you all Monday, March 19th! XOX, Wendy.” O’Connell responded, “Love you Miss Wendy! We will Say It Like We Mean It!”

On Feb. 21, Williams announced live on her show that her doctor had prescribed her a three-week break in order to combat hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease, and she bemoaned that reruns would be scheduled. “Encore performances? Really?” she said. “All right. Well, our encores are better than most,” she riffed, as the studio audience applauded.

In addition to taking three days off in mid-February for what she called a “bug,” Williams collapsed on live TV in late October due to dehydration and being overheated in a Halloween costume.

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