Wendy Williams will return to The Wendy Williams Show on March 19, three weeks after announcing to her large audience that she was taking some doctor-ordered time off to work with treatments for hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease.

Williams today also disclosed today that she’s called on her friend, actor Jerry O’Connell, to guest host the show until she returns. O’Connell will be the show’s first guest host in its nine-year history.

“Jerry has been such a good friend to me and to the show,” said Williams. “We’re happy to welcome him as a guest host while I’m out getting much needed rest. Can’t wait to get back in my purple chair!”

The show’s producers indicated that O’Connell will fill in during the week leading up to Williams’ return.

Said O’Connell, “I am so 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.”

Debmar-Mercury Co-Presidents Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein said about Williams’ absence, “our first priority is Wendy’s health and we – along with her millions of viewers – are eager to see her honest and authentically opinionated voice return to the air very soon. While no one can duplicate what Wendy can do, we are excited to have Jerry answering Wendy’s call and revving up the audience for a week leading up to her homecoming.”

The Wendy Williams Show is produced and distributed by Debmar- Mercury.

Last month, Bounce acquired the day and date repurpose rights to The Wendy Williams Show to begin weeknight airings of the syndicated talk show this month.