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Wendy Williams Sounding Grateful

hollywoodexclusive1With Tyra Banks announcing her plan to end her talk show after its current season, Wendy Williams has even more reason to celebrate the successful launch of her own gabfest. "Wendy Williams Wins!" proclaimed a major urban TV website. She could be gloating. But she's in the mood for gratitude when we catch up with the brash, busty, 6-foot-tall former New York shock radio personality.

"I just feel so grateful, especially in light of not only being a new talk show but in light of the economy," says Williams, whose show has been renewed through 2012 by Fox.

She initially planned to keep doing both her longtime radio show and the syndicated daytime offering dubbed "less a talk show than an alpha-female showcase" by The New York Times. Now she's glad she changed her mind.

"In hindsight, it was probably one of the best things I could have done, to focus on this TV venture. There is so much more to hosting a talk show than just getting a new wig, some clothes and extra eyelashes, and showing up. Being one of the executive producers, there are always meetings, always decisions to make. And I'm still taking care of my family, and I still need to get rest," says the mother of a 9-year-old son.

"The transition from radio to TV to me feels natural because it was a really adult decision that I made, as opposed to something that I didn't have a chance to think about," she adds.

Williams' show had a six-week, four-city test run before all parties involved committed to it. "That really did give me a good taste of what life would be like if the show took off. And we didn't come back on the air for another full year, so I had time to prepare my life, my family around me, friends and my business model."

She tells us she thought that when she gave up her radio show, she'd have time to take naps in the afternoon, but, "My work is never done. I don't take naps."

COUNTING THE HOURS: Mary Lynn Rajskub admits she isn't sure how much more time the long-running Fox show "24" has left on the air. "I definitely think the end is in sight, but having said that, I don't know if it's going to be this year. I'm dying to know, but I think we'll have a better idea later this month," says Rajskub of the show returning with a two-night premiere Jan. 17-18. "If the numbers are exceptional, there's a really good chance we'll do another year. I think we need at least another year, but there are so many factors that go into it."

At this point, the show certainly isn't lacking fans. "It's so strange because it's our eighth year, but the numbers of our fans are still growing somehow. People always want to tell me the story of how they watch the DVDs one after the other. I think the writers are really good at being like, 'You have to watch the next one that's coming!'" notes Rajskub, who plays the quirky computer genius Chloe O'Brian.

"It kind of amazes me that the show still works, to tell you the truth. We screened the first episode and I'm on the show, and I was still just as excited. I think the show writing is better than ever. You kind of know what the concept is by now. You watch Jack (Kiefer Sutherland), who does want to live a normal life and go with his family, but you know as a viewer, 'Well, that's not going to happen.' But the way that it's done sucks you in. You know he's going to be torn away, but how they do it and the enjoyment of that happening still works."

THE VIDEOLAND VIEW: Josh Hopkins is busy with a steady gig on "Cougar Town," but he made such a splash as Addison's (Kate Walsh) married crush on "Private Practice," fans are wondering if he'll ever reprise his role as Noah. "It's still a possibility. I didn't die," notes Hopkins. "I've been blown up on shows before, which led me to believe I wasn't going to be back. This is a little bit more open-ended," he says. "I would love to go back at some point. They were a lot of fun and Kate was a joy to work with." So you're saying there's a chance!

THE BIG-SCREEN SCENE: Casting is under way for supporting players, including the young leading lady, in "The Good Doctor," the film that will have Orlando Bloom playing a medico desperately seeking respect — and finding it when he treats a pretty 18-year-old kidney patient. His attachment grows so strong, he starts messing with her treatment to keep her sick enough to stay with him in the hospital. Bad doctor!

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster

To find out more about Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith and read their past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.



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