Joan Rivers has always told it like it is. When I asked her last press tour about Wanda Sykes’ chances of cracking the late night boys club (The Wanda Sykes Show premieres Saturday night at 11 p.m. on Fox), Rivers said, “she’s very rough. She just may do it.”
Then Rivers–a late night survivor herself–really put it out there: “It’s a lesbian club, too,” said Rivers, who was at press tour to promote her own U.S. cable series, How’d You Get So Rich. “You’ve got to be really strong,” she continued. “Think about it–Ellen (DeGeneres), Rosie (O’Donnell)–you’ve got to be strong.”
Rivers went on to suggest, “I could be a little that way myself.”
While Sykes is probably cool with Rivers’ endorsement, she told critics at her own press tour session last summer that she really prefers to think that being a good talk show host has nothing to do with gender, race or sexual orientation. “I don’t know,” says Sykes, who caught the late night bug several years ago working as a writer on HBO’s The Chris Rock Show. “I’m a woman with a point of view, and I tend to say things that we think, but we don’t say out loud. So maybe I don’t think it’s inappropriate. Maybe it’s just honest, authentic.”
Fox must think it has a hit on its hands. You don’t send bobble heads out to critics unless you have high hopes, right? For more on Sykes, read my Starweek magazine cover story in Saturday’s Toronto Star.

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