Home Entertainment Wendy Williams’ Guardian Was ‘Horrified’ by Documentary, Sought to Block Its Release

Wendy Williams’ Guardian Was ‘Horrified’ by Documentary, Sought to Block Its Release

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Wendy Williams‘ court-appointed guardian tried to block the release of a Lifetime docuseries about the talk show host, telling a court last month that she was “horrified” by the depiction of Williams as a “drunkard” and a “laughingstock.”

The guardian, Sabrina Morrissey, obtained a temporary restraining order to keep the two-part series, entitled “Where is Wendy Williams?”, under wraps.

But A+E Networks, the parent company of Lifetime, and Entertainment One were quickly able to get that order overturned on Feb. 23, with an appellate judge ruling it an “impermissible prior restraint on speech” under the First Amendment. The show aired over the following weekend.

The battle between the guardian and the network has been reported previously. But more details became available Thursday, when a New York judge ordered most of the court record in the case unsealed.

Williams ended her 14-year run as a nationally syndicated talk show host two years ago, after struggling with medical issues. Around that time, Wells Fargo froze her accounts, fearing that she was suffering from dementia and was possibly being financially exploited.

That action led to the appointment of the guardian. Williams was ultimately diagnosed with frontotemporal lobe dementia and progressive aphasia in May 2023.

By that point, Williams had signed a contract to make the documentary. Her son, Kevin Hunter Jr., and manager, William Selby, were involved as producers. Williams is listed as an executive producer.

According to the guardian, however, Williams lacked the capacity to consent to the contract and still does. Morrissey nevertheless allowed the production to go forward, with the understanding that nothing would be released without her approval and the approval of the court, according to her complaint.

Morrissey did put limits on the filming, telling Selby she would not allow filming of Williams’ medical appointments. And at certain point, the guardian refused to allow Williams to participate in further interviews.

“In the months that followed, Selby repeatedly asked whether (Williams) could participate in additional filming, stating that A+E wanted to film additional episodes,” the complaint states. “The Guardian made it clear that (Williams’) medical condition precluded any further filming or interviews.”

The complaint alleges that Morrissey was completely blindsided by the trailer, which was released on Feb. 2. Neither she nor the court had signed off on the release of the project.

She also alleges that Selby had assured her that it would be a positive portrayal, “like a phoenix rising from the ashes.”

“However, the Trailer makes clear that the documentary is anything but positive,” the complaint states. “Instead, it cruelly portrays (Williams) as deeply confused and erratic, all while she is patently disabled due to her medical conditions.”

Morrissey was “horrified” to see Williams’ medical condition exploited and mischaracterized as the result of alcohol, and to see her depicted in a “humiliating, degrading manner.”

Morrissey feared that the series would “ruin her legacy, and eviscerate the remaining earning potential which she has by portraying her as a drunkard and a laughingstock.”

Williams’ relatives have been critical of the guardianship, and the series reflects that point of view. In the complaint, Morrissey argued that the trailer falsely suggests that Williams’ “declining condition has been caused or exacerbated by the guardianship.”

Williams’ sister and son appear in the series to express their objections to the guardian, who is not identified by name, and their view that her family should be in charge of her care.

After the series aired, Variety chief TV critic Aramide Tinubu called the show an “exploitative display of her cognitive decline and emotional well-being.” The series scored strong ratings, with 1.2 million viewers over the initial broadcast plus the following three days.