As if she weren’t busy enough with her morning chat-fest The View, caring for her son, Jeffrey, recurring on 30 Rock and planning her August hometown wedding in Chicago to TV writer Lamar "Sal" Sally, Sherri Shepherd is also hosting her second season of GSN’s The Newlywed Game, which kicks off the first of 130 new episodes today. Next week, the show will celebrate Britain’s royal wedding with theme episodes including prom kings and queens and couples named William and Kate. Shepherd, who remembers watching the original Newlywed Game with her grandmother, is thrilled “to be one of the only African-Americans hosting an iconic game show. I wish my grandmother had lived to see this,” she said, while filling us in on her hectic life—and wedding plans.
How do you juggle such a jam-packed schedule?
Girl, a lot of praying! The game show is only for a month. They moved it to New York to accommodate my schedule. I get Jeffrey ready for school and after The View we do five shows in a day. On the weekends it’s all Jeffrey. I say no to a lot of stuff. I’m not on the red carpet all the time. I’m home in my pajamas without my hair on. That’s why you don’t see me on Dancing With the Stars doing the paso doble. Those people never see their kids.
As a near-newlywed, what's your perspective on the Newlywed Game couples?
I can totally relate to the wives. They’re like, ‘He leaves his clothes everywhere.’ ‘He wants me to pick up and cook.’ I’m thinking, ‘Do I really want to do this again?’ But they really love each other. We’re never mean, and they come away having fun.
Could you see yourself and Sal on the show?
I would never do it because he’d probably tell everything! My dad and aunts watch The Newlywed Game. I don’t care to have them know all of my business like where is the wildest place we do it. I don’t think I could live it down!
How did you meet Sal and how did he propose?
Niecy Nash, one of my best friends, had a party with her fiance and invited 11 of her girlfriends who kept complaining that there were no good Black men. Jay invited his guy friends. We mingled and there were games designed to keep us moving, like Taboo. I usually like short guys but I started talking to this 6’6” Chewbacca, who told Niecy he liked me because I was loud and competitive. He makes me laugh, and he loves and adores my son, who has developmental delays from being born at 5 1/2 months. Sal has the patience of a saint. And my son loves him. He proposed Jan. 2. He first asked Jeffrey if he could marry his mommy. Then he got on his knees and proposed. It was perfect.
Do you have your dress for the wedding and who’s invited?
I think it will be by a designer named Rivini, frou-frou with feathers on it. You know I’ll put some cute hair on. I’ve got lots of wigs to choose from. Sal wants some tendrils, curls around my face. Jeffrey is walking me down the aisle—we’re a package deal. Kym Whitley’s coming, Niecy Nash. Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Yvette Nicole Brown are bridesmaids. Barbara Walters is throwing my bridal shower and Elisabeth is doing my bachelorette party. The cake will be red velvet.
Any chance of reprising your judge role on Hot in Cleveland?
I’d love to. Those ladies are so much fun, no egos whatsoever.
You also did a TV Land sitcom pilot and the movie One for the Money with Katherine Heigl.
The pilot is in limbo. The movie comes out in January. I play Lula, a prostitute who becomes a bounty hunter. I put on a miniskirt, a tube-top and five-inch heels for the audition, and I booked it.
You and Jeffrey both celebrate your birthdays April 22. How will you celebrate?
This is the great thing about sharing a birthday with your child: As I get older people forget about me and focus on Jeffrey, and that’s fine with me. We’re having a Despicable Me party. I’ll be surrounded by 25 screaming six-year-olds. Every birthday I think about the amazing gift God gave to me on my birthday. Best birthday present I could have gotten.