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Wendy Williams Documentary Lawsuit Court Filings Reveal Allegations of Exploitation By A+E Networks

The contentious legal battle between Wendy Williams’s guardian and A+E Networks over the release of the “Where Is Wendy Williams?” documentary has taken another twist with the unsealing of court filings. These documents reveal allegations of exploitation by the network.

Wendy Williams
NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 27: Wendy Williams is seen walking in SoHo on February 27, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)

Contract Signing Questions

The lawsuit, filed in New York by Williams’ temporary guardian, Sabrina Morrissey, alleges that A+E Networks proceeded with filming the documentary without obtaining consent from Williams’ court-appointed guardian. According to Morrissey, Williams lacked the capacity to consent to the terms of the contract due to her deteriorating mental and physical health, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Williams’ representatives disclosed that she suffers from primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia, conditions compounded by her existing diagnoses of Graves’ disease and lymphedema.

“This blatant exploitation of a vulnerable woman with a serious medical condition who is beloved by millions within and outside of the African American community is disgusting, and it cannot be allowed,” states the complaint.

“The Contract appears to have been signed on January 25, 2023 by the ‘CEO’ of The Wendy Experience, Inc,” the complaint stresses. “The name in the signature is not clearly legible; however, it is highly distinguishable from W.W.H.’s signature.”

The project, which delved into Williams’ personal struggles with family, fame, and alcohol consumption, has been criticized for its portrayal of the former talk show host. The footage covers a period of roughly seven months.

Despite attempts to block its release, the documentary aired last month to blockbuster ratings, drawing over a million viewers across two nights. Williams, along with her son and manager, is credited as an executive producer. Her jeweler-turned-manager, William Selby, is also credited as an executive producer.

According to New York Appellate Justice Peter H. Moulton, stopping the company from airing the documentary would be an “impermissible prior restraint on speech that violates the First Amendment of the Constitution,” USA Today reported.

Morrissey, who became the former talk show queen’s guardian in 2022, claims that the former talk show host was “incapable of managing her own business and personal affairs, and indeed, was placed into a guardianship and under the supervision of this court.”

“The Guardian was horrified by the release of the trailer and its contents, which falsely depict W.W.H.’s behavior and demeanor as being the result of intoxication rather than the result of her medical condition, which has been diagnosed by doctors at Weill Cornell,” the complaint reads.

In a statement, A+E Networks said, “We look forward to the unsealing of our papers as well, as they tell a very different story.”

The controversial 4 1/2-hour documentary was broadcast on Feb. 24 and 25. Lifetime said it was the biggest nonfiction debut in two years.

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