'The Wendy Williams Show'

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Leave it to television to so shackle an edgy, gregarious personality that little of the original appeal remains after the makeover.

That seemed to be the case on Day 1 of "The Wendy Williams Show," a daytime talker starring the longtime New York radio fixture and shock jock who looks uncomfortable and out of her element at the outset of a show that she has six weeks to get right.

That's the length of a trial run being conducted on KTTV Los Angeles along with other Fox-owned stations, including in New York. If the show earns high marks and halfway decent ratings, it could get the national syndication rollout next year. But based on the initial returns, it's probably a good idea that Williams is keeping her day job as a syndie radio host.

She emerged to the obligatory pep rally atmosphere and started out with a kind of girl-talk rap that included earnest discussion about the "friends" in her head whose voices guide her in her everyday life.

"Desperate Housewives" hunk James Denton came out for a segment after the break, and his boundless enthusiasm seemed to center Williams.

The show evoked the kind of awkward vibe that indicated it was more than first-day issues. This is unfortunate given that Williams brings obvious savvy and charisma to the table. It would appear more prudent to allow Williams to sink or swim on the bold, unvarnished persona that brought her to the producers' attention in the first place. That would mean a little more throwing caution to the wind.
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