Wendy Williams Filmmakers Say They Didn’t Know About Her Diagnosis

Wendy Williams Honored With Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame
Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images

Over the weekend, the new documentary series Where Is Wendy Williams? aired on Lifetime, providing an up-close look at the former talk-show host’s struggles with addiction and mental-health issues. The release came just days after a representative for Williams announced that she has primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia, leaving some critics questioning the ethics of filming given her condition. Variety called the film “invasive at best and predatory at worst.” Fan reactions were even more harsh with people calling it “exploitative” and saying that it never should have aired.

Now, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, producers Mark Ford and Erica Hanson and Lifetime exec Brie Miranda Bryant claim they were unaware of the extent of Williams’s health issues going into filming. “Of course, if we had known that Wendy had dementia going into it, no one would’ve rolled a camera,” Ford said. The series does eventually touch on Williams’s diagnosis with her son revealing that she has been diagnosed with “alcohol-induced dementia.”

According to the producers, the doc was originally conceived and pitched to the team as following Williams on her road back to the spotlight after she left The Wendy Williams Show in 2021. “We thought it was a great idea, and we were hopeful that Wendy’s story would be redeeming and we’d be able to document this journey,” Ford said. “But as we filmed, it became evident that this wasn’t really going to be a career comeback story, that this was going to be a deeper story, and that there was something ultimately disturbing going on in Wendy’s life.”

Instead of a career story, the docuseries became about Williams’s life under a court-appointed guardianship. Her family’s frustrations with the guardianship are documented throughout the back half of the series. “I do hope people stick with it to the end, because then you’ll see what the intention ultimately became, which was that Wendy’s suffering and the family’s suffering is not in vain,” Ford said, seemingly referring to criticism of the project. “There’s a message here that is universal, and people need to hear, and, again, that echoes the experience of thousands of other families under this guardianship system.” He added, “We never would’ve aired something that didn’t have Wendy’s best interests and her family’s best interests at heart.”

In an interview with Vulture, Ford reiterated his claim that he and his team were doing what’s best for Williams and that without them it could have been worse. “Without the film, it concerns me what would’ve happened to Wendy,” he said, “because I do believe that we were a big part of getting her the care that she is now in and that she needs.”

Wendy Williams Filmmakers Say They Didn’t Know Her Diagnosis