Wendy Williams’s Guardian Calls Documentary ‘Blatant Exploitation’

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When the trailer for the Lifetime documentary Where Is Wendy Williams? dropped in February, many viewers had the same question: Was Williams — who was recently diagnosed with aphasia and dementia — really in a place to consent to an intimate exposure of her life? According to recently unsealed court documents, Williams’s guardian, Sabrina Morrissey, argues she was not.

After seeing the trailer, Morrissey filed a lawsuit attempting to keep Lifetime’s parent company, A&E, from releasing the documentary. In the suit, which was unsealed on Thursday, she accuses the filmmakers and the network of “shamelessly” exploiting Williams. According to USA Today, the suit claims that “the documentary exploits (Williams’s) medical condition to portray her in a humiliating, degrading manner and in a false light.”

Although Williams’s name was signed on a contract for the project to be made in January 2023, per USA Today, Morrissey’s suit claims that “As a result of her medical condition, (Williams) lacked capacity when the contract was purportedly executed, and she remains in that condition.” The suit goes on to say that Williams, “was not, and is not, capable of consenting to the terms” of the documentary. While Morrissey contends that as Williams’s guardian, she allowed filming of the documentary to take place because she thought it wouldn’t be aired without “review and final approval” from her and the court, she claims the filmmakers didn’t seek such permission.

Williams was appointed a court-ordered guardian in 2022 after her bank said she was an “incapacitated person” who had been “victim of undue influence and financial exploitation.” Days before the documentary aired, a representative for the former talk-show host revealed that Williams had been diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia. Producers Mark Ford and Erica Hanson and Lifetime executive Brie Miranda Bryant later told The Hollywood Reporter that they didn’t know about her diagnoses before filming. “If we had known that Wendy had dementia going into it, no one would’ve rolled a camera,” Ford said.

A day before the documentary premiered, a judge ruled that blocking it would be an “impermissible prior restraint on speech that violates the First Amendment of the Constitution.” Per Deadline, the four-and-a-half-hour documentary was the network’s biggest nonfiction debut in two years.

The Cut has reached out to A&E for comment and we will update this post when we hear back.

Wendy Williams’s Guardian Calls Doc ‘Blatant Exploitation’